The Ernakulam District Expert Committee on sand mining, the official authority to control sand mining in the district, has handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister proposing the resuming of sand mining in the district.
The memorandum was submitted in the wake of the state government refusing to re-start sand mining in the district even after the recommended ban period on sand-mining in the district ended on October 1.
The expert committee members have explained that the state government is refusing to give sanction for sand mining in the state as the National Green Tribunal, in an order, has banned the sand mining, without prior environmental clearance from environmental ministry, across India.
The committee members claimed that the tribunal’s order is not applicable to Kerala as the state government is conducting mining within the legal bounds.
“Kerala is the only state which is conducting mining legally and obeying the Kerala Protection of River banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act.
“The Act ensures the protection of the river while undertaking the mining. This is why the committee has suggested the resuming of sand mining in the district,” said committee member Sabu K Jacob. The committee said the construction sector has been hit due to the unavailability of sand.
“If the ban is not removed, the district administration will not be able to provide IAY and EMS housing schemes of the government. Also, the crusher sand mafia is utilizing the opportunity by increasing the price of the crusher sand which is unaffordable to common people for their construction works,” said committee member Wilson K John.
The members refuted allegation that the govt has opened more sand mining ghats in the Periyar, overruling a recommendation by an expert committee for 2012-13 season. Environment protection organisations have emphasised that they are not against sand mining but the protection of the rivers must be ensured by the govt.