Sand mining permit in Kerala draws flak
The Kerala government’s decision to grant mining rights to a joint venture company, Kerala Rare Earths and Minerals Ltd (KREML), in which a Kochi-based private sector company is a major stakeholder, has evoked criticism from various circles including politicians and technocrats.
According to one technocrat, the company plans to produce one lakh tonnes of beneficiated ilmenite per annum by processing the ilmenite-rich mineral sand available along the coastal belt. This will mean that the company needs five lakh tonnes of mineral sand, he said. “Sweep mining on this scale is not advisable.”
The technocrat claimed that the government had given permission to KREML without proper technical and environmental studies by experts in the fields of oceanography, environmental sciences, mining and social sciences. The project could damage the environment, ecology and affect the people of the region, he said. According to him, only small-scale modular plants with smaller capacities should have been allowed. “At every stage, the environmental impact has to be assessed and then only further development activities taken up.”
The Alapuzha coast is prone to severe sea erosion. Sweep mining would threaten the coast and hamlets along the coast.
V M Sudheeran, a Congress (I) member of Parliament (the Congress party is the senior partner in the United Democratic Front government in Kerala) has also criticised the government’s decision and said that mining would bring about serious ecological and social problems.
According to experts, beneficiated ilmenite is used to produce titanium dioxide, a versatile white pigment used in a variety of industries such as paint, rubber, textiles, polyester fibre, rayon, paper, detergents, plastic, etc.
Source: The Hindu Business Line
May 7, 2003