The public has urged the district administration to take action against a sand mafia gang for posing threat to the environment by looting sand in Semmanal Theri sand dunes and destroying over 300 Palmyra trees on acres near Muthaiya Theri of Thiruchendur in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu.
The Semmanal Theri sand dunes are located on thousands of acres in the vicinity of Thiruchendur in the Thoothukudi district. Earlier, the state government had imposed various restrictions to protect these Theri sand areas which are not found anywhere in Tamil Nadu. Sand looting has been going on for the last few days in the area located at Paramankurichi near Thiruchendur. Owned by Saravanan of Paramankurichi, the rare sand in this area is being looted by more than 100 lorries a day by digging a pit about 30 feet deep in violation of government regulations.
However, residents of the area are concerned that the groundwater level in the area is declining rapidly and the groundwater is being affected as the sand dunes, which are said to be the source of groundwater for the people around Thiruchendur, are being destroyed. In addition, drinking water is supplied to about 35 village panchayats from the Ellappanayakkan Kulam, which is located near the Muthaiya Theri area.
In this situation, the continuous sand theft in these areas has caused great anguish among the people. Apparently, residents of the area are concerned that the series of sand looting is affecting the environment of the area and creating a situation of water scarcity. It is also said that the stolen sand is sold for about Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a truck, wherein sand theft happens in more than a hundred trucks a day.
In addition, the state government has imposed a ban on the uprooting of Palmyra trees in Tamil Nadu by passing a resolution in the State Assembly. The destruction of more than 100 palm trees in the area has come as a shock to many environmentalists. Eventually, these sand mafias destroy the Palmyra trees while looting sand, which thrives more in and around Thoothukudi than any other trees.
Further, the locals have alleged that this series of sand robberies have been taking place with the cooperation of some government authorities. Subsequently, public and social activists have demanded that the district administration should immediately take steps to stop the sand looting and take appropriate action to protect the sand dunes in Thoothukudi and its outskirts.
(with inputs from Murali Ganesh, a reporter from Thoothukudi)
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