Thiruvananthapuram: Conciliatory talks to end the agitation by locals against mineral sand mining in coastal Alappad panchayat Kerala failed Thursday with the protesters refusing to accept the state government's interim proposal of partial halt to the mining activities.
Industries Minister E P Jayarajan told the anti-miningPeople's Protest Council, spearheading the over two month long agitation, that sea washing, a method of mineral sand-mining, would be stopped for one month till the proposed expert committee submitted its impact study report.
A high-level meeting, convened by Chief MinisterPinarayi Vijayan, on Wednesday had decided to set up the committee to study the impact of mineral sand-mining in Alappad. The meeting had also decided to temporarily halt the process of sea washing or surface mining of sand.
Seeking to save their remaining villages, the people ofAlappad and nearby hamlets under the banner of the protest council have been on a relay hunger strike at Vellanathuruthu near Alappad for the last 78 days demanding a complete halt to the mining activities.
Agitators have claimed that hamlet after hamlet were "disappearing" from the map due to mining activities by the IRE, a central public sector undertaking, and state government-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML).
Speaking to reporters after the conciliatory talks, Jayarajan said mining cannot be stopped as many people were employed with the companies.
"We have decided to conduct a comprehensive study into the mineral sand-mining. Report will be submitted in a month. They (agitators) want us to stop the mining. It's not possible to stop mining entirely. Only sea washing will be stopped. Inland mining can continue," he said.
He also said that the government will ask the IRE to construct groynes and strengthen the sea wall along the stretch.
However, disatisfied with the outcome of the talks, the protest council said the agitation would continue until their demands were met.
"We are happy that the minister would visit the place. We are not going to stop the agitation.
We need the mining to stop. Minister was talking about the industry, its business. How does it matter to us? We are losing our place to live. Our land has become a narrow stretch," a representative of the council said.