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Clay mining in Kerala creates health concerns

Published by MAC on 2005-01-20

Clay mining in Kerala creates health concerns

January 20, 2005

Mangalpuram - Indiscriminate clay mining in Kerala has made life miserable for thousands of people living in three villages near Thiruvananthapuram.

Local residents point out that with the steady water depletion in the area, their wells have run dry and the pollution is causing a range of skin and other health problems.

"Children have breathing problems and it's very difficult to get treatment in local hospitals. Even skin problems have increased," said Zubaida Beevi, a local resident.

Rights issue

The state Human Rights Commission has been flooded with such complaints and is now looking into the problem and examining the mining sites.

"I have asked the Department of Environmental Science of the Kerala University to study the matter in detail and submit a report within two weeks," said S Varghese, member, state Human Rights Commission.

Over a dozen companies based in the region supply kaolin or china clay to firms that make paints, distemper, paper and pharmaceutical and drugs.

These companies are now concerned that a crackdown will hurt their operations

"There will be a few people who may not be abiding by the rules and regulations. The government should identify them and take corrective measures or ask them to stop their operations," said Ashraf, Partner, Alpha Minerals & Chemicals.

With the rights panel intervening, people are now hoping that some controls will be imposed on the mining companies.

Human Rights Commission member visits mining site

January 19th 2005

Thiruvananthapuram - Kerala State Human Rights Commission today asked the Science and Technology department and Kerala University Environmental Studies department to look into complaints about the environmental fallout of clay mining in Mangalapuram panchayat in the outskirts of the city.

Human Rights Commission member S Varghese, who visited the clay mining sites on a complaint from M A Latheef, secretary of `Prathikarana Vedi,' a forum of local people, told reporters that the issue had to be studied in detail before any action could be recommended.

The local people said they were facing acute drinking water shortage in the panchayat where 19 clay mining companies were operating. Lung diseases were being caused with dust from the mining work, they told the Commission member.

Varghese also directed secretary, Mangalapuram panchayat, to present before the Commission documents regarding the licences issued for clay mining at its next sitting slated for Jan 27.

M A Latheef and Plachimada action committee convenor S Ajayan were present during the visit of the Human Rights Commission member. Varghese received complaints from the people on clay mining operations in the area. PTI

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