//Chaliyar on the deathbed; due to sand mining

Chaliyar on the deathbed; due to sand mining

MALAPPURAM: Like Bharatapuzha, one day this river may becomes a subject for dirge and writings for our poets and litterateurs.It won’t be too long before these lot start moaning nostalgically and melancholically over the heady days of Chaliyar river.

This in no way is an anecdote of a pessimist or a doomsday predictor. Time is not far off before this river will have to face the same fate as that of Bharatapuzha.Covering both Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, this river is on the death bed due to the heavy sand quarrying with the patronage of the authorities.

Apart from causing gradual degradation of the surrounding environment, sand mining is slowly posing a threat to the very existences of the river. In a single panchayat alone, there are five to six ‘kadavus’ where illegal quarrying takes place. Tonnes of sand are being quarried everyday from the river bed, from 12 panchayats, which are spread across the Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. Among these, nine are in Malappuram district.

At a single Kadavu in Cheekode panchayat in the district alone, everyday 100 to 150 trucks line up for transporting sand. Most of them are from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Local people point out that drying up of wells as well as the paddy fields in the panchayat are the major outcome of the unmindful sand quarrying.

‘‘This wasn’t the situation some years back when we didn’t have to worry about water. Today, water is a pressing issue for us despite living closer to the river,’’ said Siddique, a teacher in Chikode panchayat. Local people point out that this panchayat is just a microcosm of what is going on in all other eight panchayats in Malappuram district.

They point out that the illegal sand mining using large nets have caused large pits on the river bed, which will adversely affect the natural course of the river, eventually leading to its death. Another major issue is the erosion of the banks of the river due to sand mining