MAC: Mines and Communities

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.

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