Kerala Government Allows IREL To Continue Sand Mining in Alappad Despite Protests

Reported by

Sooraj H SLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

February 22, 2021

Location of Conflict

Alappad

,

Kollam

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Sand Mining

Mineral sand mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

28800

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

8950

ha

State

Kerala

Sector

Mining

At a high-level meeting chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on January 16, 2019, the state government ordered the temporary halt of sea washing in Alappad. At the same time, the government permitted Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL), a government body that carries out sand mining along with Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML), to continue in-land sand mining following mining norms. The governments decision to halt the sea washing was in force for only a month, the two companies resumed sea washing since mid-February 2019. The decision to halt sea- washing was prompted by a hunger strike by the residents of Alappad in November 2018 led by the the Alappad anti-mining peoples movement. Their primary demands were a complete halt to mining operations in Alappad, including a halt to the refilling of lands to stop sea washing. Sand can be mined from the inland and seabed. Sea washing (or seabed mining) is the process of dredging of sand and extraction of minerals from the sea near the beach. Environmental impacts of sea washing include impacts on benthic ecosystems, land loss through erosion, changes in marine currents, damages to coastal embankments and delta structures and infrastructure. Some of these effects have already been felt by the people of Alappad, including land loss and increasing exposure to extreme weather events, such as floods. According to the a report, the village had spread over 89.5 square kilometres. But at present, it has reduced to 7.5 square kilometres. Alappad is a narrow strip of land between the Arabian Sea and TS Canal in Kollam district in Kerala. The black sand here is rich in minerals such as monzonite, iIlmenite, rutile, zircon, silemenite and garnet, making it lucrative for sand mining. Mining on the Alappad coast was being done since 1965. In 1970, people in Alappad protested against the failure of IREL to guarantee jobs to the fisherfolk community. In another agitation in 1978, the people asked for jobs as well as better compensation for land and property leased out to the company for mining. However, by the 2000s, the people realised the harmful nature of sand mining carried out by IREL. Their discontent resulted in another round of protest in 2009, when the then state government offered to increase the compensation for the land. A study conducted by the Institute for Ocean Management in 2008 showed that the highest coastal erosion in Kerala was reported from Alappad and the adjacent Arattupuzha, Thrikkunnapuzha and Purakkad panchayats. In January 2019, a petition was filed before the Kerala High Court demanding to initiate steps to halt sand mining at Alappad. The petitioner, KM Hussain, said that the mining threatens existence of entire village. Meanwhile, in the same month, the National Green Tribunal sought action from the district administration of Kollam after a 17-year old girl's video went viral on the impact of sand mining in her native village of Alappad. While hearing the case again, in September 2020, the NGT board expressed the incompetence of Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) who is entrusted with the obligation to enforce the environmental norms. The NGT board also claimed that the Environmental Clearance for sand mining wasn't obtained by IREL or KMML. Meanwhile, the protests under 'Save Alappad, Stop Mining' have turned into a massive movement. In November 2019, protests in form of human chain in the sea was conducted.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

8950

ha

Starting Year

1970

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation, Opposition against environmental degradation, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited, Indian Rare Earths Limited

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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