KOLLAM: Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), a central public sector mining company involved in the mining in Alappad, denied any wrongdoing that resulted in the shrinkage of land mass. The allegations that the company’s operations were a threat to the existence of Alappad village were totally baseless, said IREL in its first public response to the controversy.
The methodology adopted by IREL to collect beach sand minerals is highly scientific, environment-friendly and sustainable in nature, by complying with the requirement of Kerala State Pollution Control Board, said IREL in a statement issued in the name of its chief general manager on Monday.
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IREL is carrying out two methods of mineral collection - sea wash collection and inland dredging at Alappad village. Sea wash collection is being carried out based on the scientific study done by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, on sand accretion and budgeting. Based on the study report by NCESS, the mining plan for collecting beach wash mineral sand per annum has been approved by Indian Bureau of Mines and Atomic Mineral Directorate.
‘Sea erosion not linked to mining’
The statement said the sea erosion and accretion were part of the natural phenomenon occurring along the sea coast from time to time. The company claimed that the sea wash collection was being done only at a small portion while the rest of the area had sea wall protection.
Around 500 metre length of the sea wall is kept open for sea wash collection at the southernmost end of Alappad village, said IREL. The state government constructed sea wall more than 50 years ago in the rest of the coastline of Alappad, that is around 16 km. Apart from sea wash collection, IREL collects mineral from inland deposits at Vellanathuruthu area in Alappad village.
After getting consent from the landowners, the surface right of land is being acquired temporarily by paying adequate compensation as per the package mutually agreed upon by the representatives of landowners (Karayogams), members of gram panchayat in the presence of ministers, officers of government and IREL, trade union leaders.
Despite the protests, the company claimed that it was receiving encouraging response towards lease model from the landowners belonging to Vellanathuruthu-Pandarathuruthu area. The beach sand deposits extending from Neendakara to Kayamkulam is divided into eight blocks. The state government has allotted four blocks each to Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd and IREL for its operations.
Three blocks- block 4, 5 and 8 - are in Alappad village. At present, IREL is mining at block 4. There were several private companies involved in the collection of mineral sand deposit from the coast between Neendakara and Kayamkulam between 1909 and 1970. IREL started collecting mineral sand from 1970.