Stop Mining! Save Alappad!

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The local residents of Alappad have been on a relay hunger strike for the last few months against black sand mining by raising the slogan 'Save Alappad, Stop Mining'.

But the authorities have turned a blind eye to the protest that attracts a huge turnout, including women and children. The protestors allege an unholy nexus between the local political parties and authorities to weaken the agitation against mining that is literally gnawing away their land.

"The protest has completed more than 75 days. Even the women and children of our village volunteer for 24-hour hunger strike by turns. Several voluntary organisations and prominent cultural leaders have declared their solidarity with the protest.

However, the authorities have not yet shown any willingness to hold talks with the protestors.

Alappad Grama Panchayat in Karunagappally Taluk is a narrow strip between the TS canal and the Arabian sea in coastal Kollam. As per the Litho Map of 1955 by the government of Kerala, the village had an area of 89.5 square kilometres.

According to the protestors, the black sand mining has shrunk it to just 7.6 square km. The narrowest part of the land strip has become just 33 metres between the canal and sea.

According to the protestors, the sea washing process for mining black sand by Indian Rare Earth Ltd. allegedly violating the CRZ norms has inundated the entire coast of Alappad and Arattupuzha and Thrikkunnappuzha panchayats in Alappuzha district. The agriculture, including coconut cultivation in Mukkumpuzha and Panakkada fields, has vanished from revenue records, the protestors allege.

The Vellanathuruthu area in the panchayat is the worst affected by the mining operations. The mining has also caused the sea walls constructed in some of the coastal areas to cave in causing the shore to erode.

The people had earlier raised their concerns over the recent move by the IRE to seek permission for mining in Ayanivelikkulangara area in the panchayat. At a public hearing organised by the Ministry of Environment, the public had expressed their dissent about acquiring more mining sites in the district.

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