Sand mining sharks on the rampage, raze down Attappadi hills mercilessly
Large-scale demolition of hills has been reported from Narassimukku in Agali village and Vellakulam, Nallasingha and Adwanapetti in Kottathara village of Attappadi for building residential colonies and ayurveda resorts without proper clearances.
In Narassimukku, on the banks of river Bhavani, over 200 plots have been created in an area of about 20 acres, by mowing down the hills and these have been put up for sale.
“In the recent rains, all the sand of the hills which had been mowed down, was washed away into the river,” Attappadi Samrakshana samithi president M Sukumaran said.
One of the machines used for levelling of the hills in Narassimukku has been seized by Ottappalam Sub Collector Karthikeyan. He told ‘Express’ that some persons were leveling the land to grow medicinal plants based on the clearance of the Village Officer.
“We told them that the permission of the Collector is needed for this purpose and it is in this context that the machinery was seized,” he said. “In Uppukarathode near Narassimukku, houses were proposed to be built by realtors in similarly reclaimed land. We had received a tip-off that rocks were being blasted in a pond. Similarly river sand was being illegally mined from the Bhavani river, without the the permission of the District Collector. Subsequently, the District Collector directed the seizure,” said Assistant Special Officer of Attappadi and Sub Inspector V Krishnankutty.
The Agali Village Officer, on the directions of the Collector, seized 15 loads of river sand. Similarly, the blasting of rocks to produce granite was also stopped. The bags of cement which were stored in the building of the beneficiaries’ committee of the Attappadi Hill Area Development Society (AHADS) was also seized. “Most of these plots were part of adivasi land which cannot be transferred.
Therefore, the construction works were under way using fake documents. The report of the former Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, who conducted an inquiry into the windmill issue in Nallasingha ooru, had brought out this fact,” said M Sukumaran.
Sukumaran further said that plots were being sold in Vellakulam ooru too in the name of an organic farm by realtors. He pointed out that the Centrally-sponsored Kundah soil conservation project was implemented in the 1990s and crores of rupees were spent on this account.
“However, the levelling of the Attappadi hills has resulted in those efforts being wasted as all the soil is now being washed away,” he said.
Similarly, the `219-crore Japanese-funded eco-restoration project was also implemented in Attappadi for nearly a decade, and it aimed at conserving the soil and restoring the ecological balance. “The present activities however, have rendered all those efforts waste,” said Sukumaran.