THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Industries Minister E P Jayarajan told Assembly on Tuesday the government has no plans to stop mineral sand mining in Alappad in Kollam. He was replying to an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition. Referring to the ongoing protests in Alappad and the Opposition’s demand to suspend all mining activities immediately, the minister said there were some vested interests behind the agitation and the government will ensure that mining does not harm the local residents.
“Mineral sand is to Alappad what petroleum to the Gulf countries. The state can earn crores of rupees from it and our economy will be strengthened. There are huge deposits of minerals in the coastal line from Neendakara to Kayamkulam. It’s the state’s fortune. Besides, the mining is being undertaken by the state and Central public sector companies. So the opposition to the mining can be seen as an attempt to sabotage the state’s industrial growth,” said Jayarajan.
The minister said a reconciliation meeting called in January with the protesters was positive and they had agreed to stop the agitation. “However, some external forces again prompted them to continue the stir. The UDF is supporting that. Several expert committees that studied issue have supported mining in the region,” added Jayarajan. He said the report tabled by Committee on Environment, led by Mullakkara Ratnakaran MLA, had also recommended mining and hence the UDF’s stand against was unnecessary.
Jayarajan promised the Assembly that the government will take steps to prevent smuggling of mineral sand from Alappad. He said that there were reports that illegal mining and transport are rampant through trucks and boats.
UDF walks out
Dissatisfied over the government’s stand and showing support to the protest by local residents that entered 100th day on Tuesday, the Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly.The UDF demanded the government to stop mining immediately and allay the fears and apprehensions of local residents.
Raising the issue P T Thomas MLA alleged the Alappad village was on the verge of being wiped out due to the continuous mining by government-owned companies. “Schools, houses, roads and temples at Alappad are at risk. Many gorges have been formed at various places due to continued mining. The indefinite strike by the locals has had no impact with the government turning a blind eye towards their demands,” said Thomas.