Indian Rare Earths to continue scientific mining in Alappad; sea wash to be halted

The decision was taken taking note of the recommendation and suggestions of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment.

Published: 17th January 2019 05:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2019 05:26 AM   |  A+A-

People belonging to the Coastal Warriors group expressing solidarity with the Alappad protest | Express

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday has decided to stop the sea washing in Alappad, following protests and indefinite strike against the mineral sand mining in the region by the local people. 

But the meeting has given permission to Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IRE), which operates the mineral sands separation plant in the region to produce rare earth minerals, to continue scientific mining adhering to the mining norms. 

Speaking to Express, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma said the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) had earlier asked to limit the sea sand washing to around 84,000 tonnes against the 1.5 lakh tonne carried out in the past. And this government was instrumental in reducing the limit. 

Now the meeting has decided to stop the sea sand washing for the time being and form an expert committee to study the impact of the mining in the region. The committee will also be directed to submit its report at the earliest, based on which the government will make a final call, she said.  

But there is nothing wrong in pursuing the scientific mining being carried by the company in the region. But the mining activities would be monitored by a samithi to be led by the District Collector with people’s representatives as its members, she said. 

The decision was taken taking note of the recommendation and suggestions of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment. The Chief Minister also informed the meeting that the state government will hold consultations with the representatives of the protestors. 

Industries Minister E P Jayarajan will hold the consultation with striking people in a couple of days. Though there have been protests by locals against the mining over the years citing the environmental fragility of the coastal Alappad in Kollam, blaming it for sea erosion and eating up their lands, the issue snowballed into a big controversy recently when a 12-year-old girl posted a video on social media describing the sad plight of the people in the region.    

Meanwhile, the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) which once strongly campaigned against handing over the mining to private players in 2002, has made a statement that a responsible mining practice has to be undertaken in the region.

The state government should also correct the unscientific methods followed by the company and address the issues and apprehension of the people in the region, it said. 

“The Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) had earlier asked to limit the sea sand washing to around 84,000 tonne against the 1.5 lakh tonne carried out in the past,” J Mercykutty Amma, Fisheries Minister 

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