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Politicians distance themselves from over 1,000 days long anti-mining stir in Kerala

It has been an open secret in Kerala that the mainstream political parties used to get funds from the controversial firm Cochin Minerals and Rutiles Limited
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 14:55 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 14:55 IST

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Alappuzha: Even as the shady financial deals of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter with a controversial mining firm is dominating the election campaign in Kerala, the over 1,040 days long indefinite relay stir by local people at Thottappally coastal area of Alappuzha against the unchecked mining of mineral rich sand by the mining lobbies is not getting much attention of political parties.

It has been an open secret in Kerala that the mainstream political parties used to get funds from the controversial firm Cochin Minerals and Rutiles Limited (CMRL) headed by Sasidharan Kartha. But Pinarayi Vijayan is facing much embarrassment as it was not the party but his daughter and her Bengaluru based firm that received the shady funds from the firm.

Opposition Congress as well as the BJP allege that the payments received by Vijayan's daughter were bribes by the mining lobby to Vijayan for facilitating illegal mining of the ilmenite rich mineral sand that fetch high prices.

About 50 kilometres of coastal areas stretching between Ambalapuzha in Alappuzha to Neendakara in Kollam have mineral sand deposits. Major chunk of the region comes under Alappuzha lok sabha constituency from where AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, sitting MP A M Arif of CPM and Shobha Surendran of BJP are in the fray.

"So far only BJP candidate Shobha Surendran and some fringe parties visited us and assured support. No candidates or their representatives from either the CPM or the Congress visited us. We have also made our stand clear by putting up a banner that there will be no vote for those favouring mining,' said S Suresh Kumar, chairman of the anti-mining action council at Thottappally, around 20 kilometres from Alappuzha. 

K C Sreekumar, leader of the anti-mining action council at Alappad region said instead of speaking about man-animal conflict of the high-range here, the candidates should tell the local people of issues directly affecting the locality, he said.

Kerala witnessed major stir during the early 2,000 over attempts by private lobbies to carry out extensive mineral sand  mining by buying large extent of land in the coastal areas. Interestingly, Pinarayi Vijayan had then taken part in the stir and even wrote a book strongly opposing mining activities in the ecologically sensitive region, the action council leaders said.

Even as the private sector is not allowed to carry out mining, the private lobbies are allegedly carrying out the mining under the cover of public sector undertakings  Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited and  Indian Rare Earths. The stir at Thottappally was launched in 2020 following the massive mining of the ilmenite rich sand under the cover of saving the nearby Kuttanad region, known as Kerala's rice bowl,  from flooding by removing the sand that accumulated on the river mouth.

"As per the information we have, so far 54 lakh metric tons of mineral rich sand have been taken from Thottappally region since 2019, while the permitted limit was 2.37 lakh. Hence it is causing huge loss to the exchequer part from posing threat to the coastal area," said Suresh Kumar.

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Published 16 April 2024, 14:55 IST

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