Illegal sand extraction affects clam collection

Collection of clams is a source of livelihood for Kudru residents in Ullal.

The illegal sand extraction in River Nethravathi, including at 'Kudru' areas in Ullal, have taken a toll on traditional fishing carried out by many families.

The families were eking out a livelihood by catching clam (locally called maruvai) in Kudru in Ullal. Illegal sand extraction has severely affected livelihood of families as clams and fish are not available in the river for a year now.

The reduction in catch had led to livelihood crisis and uncertainty, adding to the woes of clam collectors. “I could collect enough clams in just a few hours in the past. Now, the clam deposits have shrunk drastically,” a clam collector said.

The families alleged that the intensified illegal sand mining in the region had resulted in fish famine and disappearance of clams in the area.

“We go for fishing before dawn and it has become painstaking nowadays. The clam deposits have dwindled drastically as a result of illegal sand extraction. We need to protect our resources to ensure our livelihood,” a resident emphasised.

Over the years, the Kudru had witnessed many illegal sand extractions resulting in the drastic decline in fishery resources, including clams.

The residents said, “There is a need to redeposit baby clams in large numbers and maintain the salinity of water for the reproduction of clams. The use of bulldozers for sand extraction had affected the breeding of fish as well. Along with the sand, the clams too are removed. As a result, we return home empty handed without the bag full of clams as in the past."

Despite our complaints to the authorities, illegal sand mining continues unchecked, another resident Naveen D’Souza rued.

“We were engaged in fishing from the time of our ancestors. We were catching fish and clams using small crafts. The illegal sand extraction has destroyed the fish and clams. Now, we are not able to collect clams in large quantities,” he said.

With the decline in availability of clam, the price of clam too had increased dramatically.

"About 100 clams fetch Rs 50. It was much less a few years ago," said Usha, a home maker.

When contacted Mangaluru Tahsildar Guruprasad said, "The issue of illegal sand mining at Kudru in River Nethravathi had come to our notice. We had continued our drive against illegal sand extraction by carrying out raids on sand mining areas in Bolara region. Action would be initiated against illegal sand extraction.”

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