Kerala: ‘Despite stop memo, sand mining continues at Periyar’ |


    KOCHI: The alleged move to extract sand using machinery in the pretext of removing silt from the Periyar river near the regulator at Purappillikkavu has resulted in a row with the Kunnukara panchayat issuing a stop memo to the contractor.
    “We had issued the stop memo two weeks ago after we found that their work involving machinery was damaging the river banks which faced erosion. I came to know on Tuesday that the contractor has resumed work despite the stop memo,” said Kunnukara panchayat president Francis Tharayil.
    Panchayat authorities have maintained that their complaint was not regarding extraction of sand but residents have alleged that the contractor is engaged in mining sand in the name of desilting the regulator.
    According to residents, the contractor was using a pump to mine the sand close to the banks and this was posing severe risk to houses.
    Kunnukara panchayat president said as per rules, machinery could not be used to mine sand and stop memo was issued because of the violations.
    “We had also informed the irrigation department about this,” he said.
    Permission for removing silt was given as the silt deposits after the 2018 floods were hampering the functioning of the regulator.
    In May this year, Piravom municipality had floated an etender to remove ‘silt and sand’ from a stretch of 7km of Muvattupuzha River from Nechoorkadavu to Kalamboor, riding on a directive by Ernakulam district collector under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act (DMA).
    The local body had fixed a base price of Rs 4.90 crore for removing 37,000 tonnes of sand and silt and the winning bid was for Rs 5.8 crore. The entire process ended in legal wrangles after the district administration denied them permission because sale of sand could not be permitted.
    According to environmental activists, provisions of the DMA are invoked for sand mining in the pretext of pre-monsoon cleaning, as it would be almost impossible to mine sand below the lean water flow during summer months, which is prohibited.