NGT forms committee to assess damage due to sand mining


    NEW DELHI: Taking note of excessive sand mining in Alappad, a coastal village in Kerala, the National Green Tribunal has formed a committee to determine compensation to be recovered for damage to the environment by unsustainable illegal mining. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel constituted the committee comprising representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board.
    It asked the panel to submit report within two months by e-mail and said it would be open to the concerned regulatory authorities to recover the compensation by following due procedure of law.
    The tribunal passed the order recently after perusing a report field by District Magistrate, Kollam, and the state pollution control board which showed that mining volumes have far exceeded the sustainable mining quantity proposed.
    The report shows that mining volumes have far exceeded the sustainable mining quantity proposed, NGT noted.
    “The long-term shoreline changes computed from the aerial photograph/satellite imageries for the period 2000-2019 shows severe erosion of mining sites of Indian Rare Earths Limited and Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. The shoreline retreats are to the extent of 425 metre, 382 m and 142 m respectively at Vellanathuruthu (IREL mining site), Ponmana (KMML mining site) and Kovilthottam,” it said.
    The report further stated that during the period of 2000-2019 the shoreline has receded by 243 m, 227 m and 57 m respectively at Vellanathuruthu, Ponmana and Kovilthottam mining sites.
    The extent of deepening of the nearshore areas is more pronounced at Ponmana and Vellanathuruthu indicating severe erosion in the near shore areas, it said.
    The tribunal has taken suo motu (on its own) cognizance of an Indian Express news report titled “17-year-old’s video gets Kerala talking of impact of sand mining”.
    The news report mentioned about Kavya S, a class 12 student, who made the video about the environmental impact of the decades-long black sand mining activity in her village Alappad.
    “The video, in which she relays a village’s strong fears about falling off the map due to extensive dredging and excavation works by two public-sector firms, has become a huge talking point on television news channels, radio stations, and social media networks.
    “Her video and word of the campaign have been amplified by Malayalam cinema’s young actors like Prithviraj Sukumaran and Tovino Thomas,” the news report had said.
    The report had said that Alappad and several villages on the coasts of Kollam and Alappuzha in southern Kerala are rich repositories of black sand that contains important minerals like monazite, ilmenite, rutile and zircon.
    “Sand mining activities began in Alappad in the mid-60s, mainly under the auspices of the Centre’s Indian Rare Earths Limited and the state-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited,” it said.