Like many other teenagers, Kavya S recorded a video as an experiment on a mobile app, TikTok. Unlike her peers, it was not a song, a funny joke, or the dialogue from a film. It was a video revealing the decade-long black sand mining-activity in her village which has been causing adverse environmental repercussions.
The Class 12 student, living in the coastal village of Alappad in Kerala’s Kollam district, recorded the video some three weeks ago and sent it to her sister’s friend on WhatsApp.
Little did she know that this video would start an anti-mining campaign in Kerala and push forth an investigation by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), as reported by the Indian Express.
In the video, Kavya speaks of the general fear among the villagers about Alappad falling off the map, because of the constant excavation and dredging work by two public sector companies.
An honest representation of the on-ground situation, the video soon found momentum among the citizens and spurred a state-wide concern, amplified by a campaign by Malayalam film actors Tovino Thomas and Prithviraj Sukumaran.
“To see the land beneath our feet sink away is an extremely sad sight. Today, the mining works are at the northern end of Alappad, but there’s a fear in people’s minds that very soon the JCB will land at our doorstep,” she told IE, referring to the earth-moving equipment.
Alappad, along with several other villages on the coasts of Alappuzha and Kollam, in Kerala, is rich in black sand. It contains minerals like ilmenite, zircon, monazite and rutile.
Due to this treasure, sand-mining activities began in the mid-60s by the Centre’s Indian Rare Earths Limited, and state-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited. Thus, slowly pushing it towards environmental degradation.
Naturally as well, as Alappad lies between the sea and the national waterway, it is susceptible to coastal erosion. During the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 143 people had lost their lives in Alappad alone.
Home to the fisherfolk, the adverse effects of mining, in addition to the natural erosion, have been the cause of common worry, but protests against it often fell on deaf ears, until now.
Owing to this viral video, the National Green Tribunal took cognisance of the matter and initiated a probe. A bench led by the NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has now asked the Kollam district magistrate to submit a detailed report within a month.
As per the news report by IE, the next hearing for this matter is set for March 29.
“In the video, all I have done is express the pain of the people in my village. It’s not a political speech. In my own little way, I’m happy I could contribute to the cause, and I’m glad that the public of Kerala is supporting us,” Kavya told the publication.
Every day after school, this young activist joins other protestors to continue the fight for her village. By raising difficult questions on the right platform, she has now become an icon for the youth!
Kudos to her!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)