Illegal sand mining has come to the fore again. Environmentalists pointed out that the miners were securing permits from the authorities concerned for mechanised sand mining which is against the order of the Union Government.
The Union Government, based on the verdict of the Supreme Court, had directed the states that sanction should not be granted for mechanised sand mining.
They said that the authorities recently granted permission for such a mining project to a private party at Kottayam. “Sand mining with machineries will cause grave ecological problems. Hence, such mining licence allocations should be curbed by the state government and the Mining and Geology Department,” said Ashok Sivan, a member of River Protection Samithi.
He said that such allocations would encourage illegal mining in the state. “People would seek sanction for mechanised sand mining at the river beds of Periyar and Muvattupuzhayar.
Hence, the state government should adhere to the directive of the Centre,” he said.
The state government should take appropriate steps to curb illegal sand mining across the state during the night and end the nexus between politicians and the sand mining mafia.
Meanwhile, members of the state expert committee on sand mining, the official authority to control sand mining in the state, said that there is no room for apprehension over the sand mining system being followed in the state.
“The recent sand mining sanction at Kottayam may have been awarded on legal grounds. Permission can be given for minor sand mining projects in less than five hectares. Such mining permissions will not cause any environmental issues,” they said.
They also said that only legal mining is being undertaken in the state.
“The government is directly conducting sand mining in the state by following the Kerala Protection of River banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act. Moreover, we are not letting any private party to conduct large-scale sand mining,” they said.
They further said they were taking measures to protect the rivers. “We banned sand mining for a long period last year. The government resumed it last month based on the report of the environmental scientist and Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University A V George that sand mining during this point of time will not harm the environment,” the officials said.