KOCHI: Environmentalists are up in arms against the government decision to mine four lakh cubic metres of sand from Bharathapuzha and Periyar for Kochi Metro rail. Upset by the decision, they have decided to approach the high court against the move which they believe would have far reaching consequences on the environment.
“The decision to mine four lakh cubic metres of sand from Bharathapuzha and Periyar will have far reaching implications. We will move high court against the decision. Also Kochi Metro rail authorities have not conducted proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) study. So the issue of damage caused to environment due to Metro remain unaddressed,” said S Sitaraman, environmentalist and the founder of All Kerala River Protection Council, an NGO.
Activists will meet in Malappuram on Sunday and send letters to the ministry of forest and environment (MOEF) and Kerala chief minister demanding the cancellation of permission to mine sand from both the rivers. “As per the verdict of Kerala high court’s green tribunal, sand mining in rivers can be allowed only after conducting EIA and sand auditing. So, sand mining from any river in the state is illegal now. Large-scale mining for Metro will see the depletion of water table along the rivers. Unless the government cancels the decision and looks for alternatives, a disaster is imminent,” said environmentalist C M Joy.
However, transport minister Aryadan Mohammed, who is in charge of railways, said that the government would soon stop sand mining for all other purposes and limit its usage only forMetro work.
“Even now, more than four lakh cubic metres of sand is being mined from these rivers. We will soon limit sand mining only for the construction of Metro rail. So, there won’t be much damage to the environment. We have taken the decision after considering the opinion of experts such as E Sreedharan (DMRC chief),” Aryadan said.