Villagers in Kinnanore in Kerala's Kasaragod district called off a month-long agitation against bauxite mining. They relented on January 12 after Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan assured them that the sanction to the mines would be revoked. "The people, the panchayat and the political parties do not want this project," said Achuthanandan.
Gujarat-based Ashapura Mines was operating in the village with official sanction from the Kerala Industries department to mine bauxite from over 80 hectare of government land--a small hillock of midland laterite serving as a watershed for five small rivulets. The company was planning to mine over 970 ha in the area. "The mining, up to a depth of 30 metres for which the company had obtained permission, would have affected the rivers," said Babu Chembena, convener of the anti-bauxite mining committee. The mining had affected 12 families and another 250 were under threat. The operations have polluted the air and affected water sources in the area. The agitators said the project would affect the farmers--most of them from backward castes--who earn a living by selling wild grass from the nearby forests.
The villagers alleged that the mining would imperil the ecological balance of the forest area by polluting the Nileswaram and Tejaswani rivers flowing nearby. Moreover, no environmental impact assessment was conducted for the project, they said.
--P N Venugopal Kochi
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