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Save Alappad, Stop Sand Mining, Kerala, India

Save Alappad, Stop Mining is a protest by the people of Alappad fighting against the decades-long mining practices of two public sector companies mining sand for ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite....


The mineral-rich sand deposits (commonly called as Black Sand) in the 22 kilometer stretch between two tidal channels from Neendakara of the Ashtamudi Estuary and Kayamkulam of the Kayamkulam Lagoon, is called Chavara Deposits. This has been the only deposit so far in the Indian coast, to have a heavy mineral content running as high as 60 to 70%. They include ilmenite, rutile, zircon, and monazite, which find uses in the titanium dioxide pigment industries and nuclear power reactors [1]. Two public sector companies Indian Rare Earth Limited (IREL) and Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) have been engaged in mining in the area for over 50 years. This has resulted in decades-long protests from the people against the activities of the company.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Save Alappad, Stop Sand Mining, Kerala, India
State or province:Kerala
Location of conflict:Alappad, Kollam
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
Titanium ores
Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Monazite
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Neendakara Kayamkulam stretch has been mined since the 1920s. According to the Department of Mining and Geology, the area is estimated to have “127 million tonnes of heavy minerals with ilmenite content of 80 million tonnes from the total reserve of raw sand of the order of 1400 million tonnes”.

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Project area:760
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:20,000
Start of the conflict:1992
Company names or state enterprises: Indian Rare Earth Limited (IREL) from India
Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Kerala
National Green Tribunal
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Social media campaign “#SaveAlappad, Stop Mining”
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil erosion, Mine tailing spills, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Other Environmental impactsBeach erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The protests aimed to stop the mining activities of the two companies, which has not happened. This has not happened yet. Thus one could argue that environmental justice has not been served. However, it has succeeded in mobilizing and creating a political space for conversation. Initiatives like the Coastal Watch ( that talk about issues of the marginalized fishing community of Kerala, find its origins in this space that the protests created.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[6] Report filed by the Joint Committee constituted in Original Application No. 7 612019, Adv.Jog.v Scaria, Additional Standing Counsel, 2019
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] EIA Report for Mining of Heavy Mineral Sand In Alappad, Panmana and Ayanivelikulangara Villages in Kollam District for an Area of 180 ha in NK Block IV EE by Indian Rare Earths, Chavara, Kollam, Kerala
[click to view]

[2] Ini Varunnoru Tharalmurakk Ivite Vasam Sadhyamo, Manorama Online, Shajan C Mathew, June 2016
[click to view]

[5] NGT takes cognizance of teenage girl’s video on sand mining in Kerala, seeks report
[click to view]

[3] The Many Struggles of Alappad, The New Indian Express, January 2019
[click to view]

[4]Save Alappad, Stop Mining’: Angry Citizens Tell Kerala Govt, The Quint, February 2019
[click to view]

[7] How to Save Alappad? Muralee Thummarukudy Writes, Azhimukham, January 2019
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Silent Protest against Mining in Alappad Village by #KollamNanbans Karunagapally Town Committee .
[click to view]

Video by 17 years old girl on Alappad San Mining
[click to view]

Save Alappad, Facebook Group
[click to view]

Save Alappad Song (and the beach sand being mined)
[click to view]

Scroll. Haritha John, 26 Oct. 2018.Sand mining in coastal Kerala is swallowing villages and displacing thousands.The threat of coastal erosion looms large over the coastline between Chavara and Alappad in Kollam district.
[click to view]

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Last update08/09/2020
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