|Photo Courtesy: thehindu.com|
The protestant and Catholic Church in Tamil Nadu seems to be divided over the state government’s ban on mining of beach sand.
Days after a former bishop of the Church of South India for Tuticorin-Tirunelveli diocese, Jayapaul David urged the government to lift the ban on sand mining, the Roman Catholic bishop Yvonne Ambrose of Tuticorin has declared support for the ban.
Addressing the media in Tuticorin yesterday, bishop Ambrose said sand mining companies were illegally quarrying the mineral rich sand, which has deeply impacted the lives of fishing communities.
It destroys the environment as well social peace in coastal villages, he claimed.
"The special committee should seek the opinion of fishing community and fisheries officials about the environmental degradation to marine life due to sand mining. The probe should also be extended to coastal region of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari where sand mining continues," he said.
"We place this demand on behalf of the clergy, religious communities and laity as well as all fishermen federations of Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts," he said. Currently, beach sand mining is banned only in Tuticorin district.
The bishop said many people living in the coastal region were afflicted by diseases caused due to processing of the mineral sand.
He demanded the arrest of sand miners who have been involved in illegal mining in the region for more than 15 to 20 years and demanded a total ban on mining as ordered by the National Green Tribunal.
He also urged the government to seize minerals hoarded by mining companies in warehouses and attach properties that were acquired through illegal mining.
The bishop added that fishermen have been protesting for the past 15 years.
Bishop Ambrose's public endorsement of the government action has come just two days after bishop David submitted a petition to the special committee seeking removal of the ban on sand mining.
In his petition, he reasoned that the mineral sand is available in the Indian peninsula and the state and central government have allowed it to be mined.
Sand mining has been a source of livelihood for people in the region for the past 40 years, especially in areas which receive scanty rain, he argued.
Source: times of india
India: When nature is exploited, so too are former untouchables.