The differences between the two major constituents of the ruling Left Democratic Front, CPI and CPM, over environment issues through the Alappad anti-mining agitation have come to the fore.
The CPI has made it clear it was with the people even when Industries Minister and CPM leader EP Jayarajan said he was not aware of the agitation and there has been no official communication to him in this regard.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran has come out publicly stating that his party was with the people of Alappad, a sleeping hamlet, which is under threat of 'vanishing under the impact of indiscriminate beach sand mining’ by two public sector units.
The villagers have been on agitation against the mining that has been going on for the last five decades. This has shrunk the land massively. According to the protesters, lithographic map decades ago had shown the area of Alappad panchayat as 89.5 square kilometre and it has now shrunk to a measly 7.6 square km due to sea erosion caused by the mining. They also claim hamlet after hamlet was 'disappearing' from the map due to mining activities by the Indian Rare Earth (IRE), a central Public Sector Undertaking, and state government-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML).
The agitation has been on for the last 75 days and has started receiving public support. Social media is abuzz and on Monday a set of college students have reached ther expressing solidarity with the agitators.
Recently actor Prithiviraj had a Facebook post in support of Alappad villagers and another star Tovino raised the issue during a public meeting in Kollam.
Kanam said the issue had to be resolved immediately and Jayarajan had to explain his stand. He also said the party would stand by the people and not let the agitation be hijacked.
Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma recently said the industries department would hold discussions with the agitators to resolve the issue.
However, Jayarajan said he had not received any official communication regarding the strike and added that forces from outside were behind the agitation. Also, the coastal erosion was caused mainly by tsunami. He alleged that illegal sand mining mafia was behind the agitation.
Meanwhile, Congress leader VM Sudheeran backed the agitators. The Government has convened a meeting with the agitators on January 15.