: A day after
Pinarayi Vijayan took the initiative to hold talks with the agitating residents of Alappad, industries minister E P Jayarajan on Sunday refused the protesters’ demand for stopping the mining, a pre-condition for attending the proposed January 16 dialogue.
The minister also challenged the allegation that much land has been lost because of mining.
“There are no reports saying that land is being lost due to mining in these regions. Land was lost during the tsunami,” he told a news conference here. Kollam was one of the worst tsunami-affected districts in 2004.
Alleging that some vested interests were behind the agitation against mining, Jayarajam opined that a probe was required in the controversy. “People from Malappuram are behind the agitation. It has to be probed whether the agitation is stage-managed,’’ the minister said.
Central public-sector undertaking India Rare Earths Limited (IRE) and state government-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) have been mining mineral sand from the beach since the 1960s.
The minister said 16.5 kilometres of coastal area—protected by “strong sea wall”—has been identified in the region for mining, and the area was divided into four plots each for the two firms.
Both the firms were now mining in only one each of the plots allotted to them, and KMML was not mining to its full capacity. The mining has given jobs—directly and indirectly—to thousands of people, Jayarajan said, adding that the mining has been contributing to state exchequer.
“People are cooperating with the mining process here. About 2,000 families have leased out their land for mining, and they are also getting revenue,’’ the minister said.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran, meanwhile, said the issues at Alappad would be sorted out on the basis of report by the legislative assembly council.
“The legislative assembly council had visited Alappad. A solution can be found on the basis of their report,” Kanam told the media in Kochi.
He also said that CPI would be with the members of the public. Condemning Jayarajan’s statement, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the minister should have studied the issues and tried to solve them. The Congress leader would visit Alappad on Monday.