Thiruvananthapuram: As the mass agitation against mineral sand mining in the coastal hamlet of Alappad is set to enter the 100th day this week, Kerala Industries minister E P Jayarajan Tuesday flayed protesters and alleged interference by "external forces" in the anti-mining stir.
Extending support to mineral sand mining, he said mineral sand for Kerala is what petrol is like to Gulf countries and the LDF's stand was to mine it without causing harm to the environment.
While replying to a notice for adjournment motion moved by the opposition UDF over the issue in the state assembly, Jayarajan said he failed to understand why the agitators were protesting against an industry which had provided jobs to thousands of people.
The minister also rejected the protesters' claim that Alappad in Kollam district was 'disappearing' from the map due to mining activities by the Indian Rare Earth (IRE), a central Public Sector Undertaking, and state government-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML).
He said it was not mineral sand mining, but the tsunami which had hit the shores in 2004 besides reduction in sand flow from the sea which were responsible for sea erosion in the area.
The public-sector industries could not be destroyed by stopping the mining, the minister added.
The people of Alappad were not against mineral sand mining, Jayarajan said and alleged that conciliatory talks by the government had not yielded any result due to interference by "external forces" in the agitation.
There were attempts to stop the mining even by constructing a temple in the area, he alleged.
Seeking notice for the motion, P T Thomas (Congress) said over 5000 families had already left the coastal hamlet due to mining and the alleged environmental issues.
"Temples, churches and public roads are vanishing.
One hamlet is on the verge of disappearance," he said.
The legislator said the CPI(M)-led LDF government should be ready to shed its "stubborn" attitude and hold talks with the protesters to resolve the stir.
He also wanted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to visit Alappad.
As speaker P Sreeramakrishnan denied leave for the motion, the UDF members staged a walkout protesting the government stand.
Local people of Alappad had launched an indefinite relay fast on November 1 raising the slogan "Save Alappad, Stop Mining."
The agitation, which garnered widespread support from various quarters, will enter the 100th day on February 8.