Alappad; people all out for saving their last piece of land


By Anupama Vimal

Kollam (Kerala): The story of Alappad is not just about a dwindling mass of beach but a struggle of a small village near Kollam where people try it out to keep their piece of land intact voicing against indiscriminate mining whereas the government is all out for helping the mining industry.

Alappad that was about 89 square kilometre once has now reduced to just 7.4 square kilometre, mainly because of indiscriminate mining for the last 60 years. With the fear of losing the last patch of land in the beach village, the people have launched an indefinite agitation against the mining while the Pinarayi Vijayan led government has took to the stand that mining would not be stopped.

While the agitators under the Karimanal Khananavirudha Janakeeya Samrakshana Samithi staging a hunger strike at Alappad, Kerala Industries Minister E P Jatyarajan stressed that there was no need for stopping the mining as demanded by the agitators. He also claimed that the present situation in the region was caused because of Tsunami and mineral mining had nothing to do.

Meanwhile, the people in the region opined that the land has dwindled only because of the indiscriminate mining activity.

Raju, a local fisherman, told IFNS that they would continue their agitation till their demands were met.

Despite the government’s claims that the present situation in the region has nothing to do with mineral mining, the people say that it was only mining that had led as many as 5,000 people landless. The leaders also point out to wide spread ramifications if mining was not stopped now. They allege that Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IRE), which is undertaking the mining activity, has violated mining, costal and other rules.

While the Government is so adamant in not stopping the mining activities, the Samarasamithi said that they would fight till justice was got. They also alleged that the government was against the people. A Samarasamithi activist said that it was high time that the last patch of land was protected.

The agitation that was started in November 2018 has gained momentum with political parties, actors, environmentalists and many others coming out in support of the Samrakshanasamithi. Many of the leaders, including the opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala visited the area and extended all support to the agitators. Former Chief Minister and veteran CPM leader V S Achuthanandan also came out in support.

The agitation over stopping the mining activities has also led to a confrontation between the two major ruling parties – the CPM and the CPI. When Industries minister E P Jayarajan has come out in support of mining, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran backed the agitators.

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