Illegal sand mining continues in the North along the east coast of Jaffna peninsula from various sites is creating a negative environmental impact today and is a deep concern to the local residents. Mining of sand from these dunes has been an accepted activity before commencement of the civil-war; today there are uncontrolled mining operations in these areas.
The illegal operation of sand mining in the eastern area of Vadamarachchi by miners equipped with hundreds of tillers and bulldozer vehicles was met with huge discontentment from both locals residents and officials. It resulted in the miners retreating out of the area with their vehicles and machinery.
Earlier there were multiple meetings, which were attended by the Vadamarachchi East Divisional Secretory, village officers and local officials, conducted at the Point Pedro police station to resolve and investigate the issue immediately. Following the protests, police officials and the District Secretary of Maruthankerny arrived at the scene.
On condemnation of the illegal sand mining operations they arrived at a decision that though a license was not needed to transport sand, a permit was needed to extract sand. Thus permission must be granted from the relevant District Secretariat and other authorities on application for mining from available approved site. This important aspect is ignored by these miners and is causing severe damage to the environment.
It was agreed that a police post should be established in this area. A vigilant team was set up to ensure that no further illegal sand mining operations occur at these sites. Yet illegal mining of sand goes on disturbing the natural sand dunes formed by nature in east coastal areas in the peninsula. It must be remembered that these sand dunes served well during the tsunami saving many lives; unfortunately due to neglect by authorities that protection is lost today and worse due to over extraction seawater flows into the ditches during high tides.
Regrettably the recent sand transport permit rebuttal by the state is not well interpreted properly both by the authorities and the sand miners is not helping the environment due to sea-level rise during high tides. Where as it should have included sand mining and distribution as the result permit rebuttal is exploited by a massive profit motivated mafia.
Extraction of sand from naturally deposited sand dunes is of economic interest to the illegal miners, only became an issue when there was uncontrolled over extraction. Earlier sand was removed keeping the ecological balance under supervision by authorities, preventing any over extraction of the sand. People are today waiting on the authorities to resume the control of sand mining from these areas, that was in operation before the civil-war war broke out.