The sleepy hamlet of Alappad in Kollam district whose very existence is at stake because of unbridled beach sand mining has caught the social media eye. This is when political parties have literally remained blind to the struggle of villagers that has crossed 60 days.
A hashtag campaign to save Alappad and expressing solidarity with the protesting villagers is trending and actors have joined the fray. Film stars Prithviraj and Tovino have come out openly against the indiscriminate mining that is eating into the village.
It was in 1968 that two public sector units, Indian Rare Earth of the Centre and Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd of the State began mining beach sand. The then litho map of Alappad village showed 89.5 sqkm which one at just 8 sqkm.
When Prithviraj took to Twitter to campIgn for the villagers, Tovino went directly to the people.
Prithviraj was candid to post, “I honestly don’t know how much an FB post will help. Frankly, the social media bandwagon that we all jump in whenever an issue finds traction is increasingly seeming like a meaningless exercise. But what bothers me most about the current scenario..is that there is a furore when belief is questioned and religion is the debate. At the same time, the fact that the sheer existence of a people and the place they call home is in danger..and for some reason, it’s still the poor cousin of the favourite prime time news. I’m going to end this post with the expected hash tag. But this nagging thought that a hash tag is all it’s going to be is a little depressing. I can only hope..that this voice of mine joins an ever growing chorus, and sooner rather than later, we make enough noise that action is no longer a choice for the concerned authorities. #SaveAlappad”
Tovino Thomas and hundreds of fans of Tamil actor Vijay have backed the campaign.
“For the last few days, I have been seeing a widely shared hashtag campaign 'Save Alappad' on social media,” Tovino said at a Kerala State Youth Commission meet in Kollam recently.
“Perhaps if I talk more about this issue, more people will be aware of this. I do not have the authority to take any action but I would like to bring this to the attention of those who have not heard about the Alappad anti-mining campaign and hopefully bring some change,” he added.
Environmentalists say the 23-km land stretch from Chavara to Alappad was being taken away by the waters.
Jayakumar of Thiruvanthapuram-based environment organisation Thanal told Pennews, “This mining activity at Alappad is a crime against future.” The Government and all political parties are distancing from people. They continue to repeat the same mistakes and options for the future are reduced, he feels.
Mining the world over has changed but not in Kerala. Five decades, Alappad is being exploited. The entry of actor like Prithviraj and Tovino are encouraging as they are youth icons and it was literally the youth who saved the State during the flood. They should be heard, Jayakumar adds.