She calls it the “battle for the seashore”. And five months, many detractors and hundreds of kilometres away from the Neerozhukkumchal coast in Kannur, Vaddakkel Jazeera says she is not just clutching sand.
Having shaken the district administration of native Kannur and got the Kerala government to take note, the 31-year-old is sitting with her three children at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in what she calls her war against the sand mining mafia.
“I wanted Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to give in writing that the CRZ rules would be strictly implemented and illegal buildings not be allowed in the stipulated zone. I am fighting to protect the Kerala coast.”
Kannur District Collector Rathen U Kelkar shakes his head. “We have taken steps to prevent sand mining in the region. Her demands were met. I don’t know why she is continuing the agitation.”
Living along the Neerozhu-kkumchal coast in Kannur’s Madayi village, Jazeera took up her protest in June 2013, objecting to women taking sand — mainly for construction work in houses or for coconut cultivation. She took photographs of some carrying away sand on their heads and took these to the police at Pazhayangadi, seeking their arrest. Demanding action against the women and a ban on sand-lifting, Jazeera started a sit-in at the station on June 14.
“Women have been carrying away sand for years in Madayi, where a sea wall has been constructed along most parts of the coast. But that has not contributed to the erosion and people do not shovel sand close from the sea wall,” says Madayi panchayat member Madappally Pradeepan. He says if the sand deposited at the estuary is not removed, the region would be waterlogged.
According to Mohanan K, a local Congress leader, the issue was the result of a dispute between Jazeera and the other women. “She wanted the women to give her money, which they refused, prompting her to take them on as sand mafia,” he alleges.
According to Pazhayangadi SHO E K Shiju, until October 11, their station had seized 69 vehicles and registered 70 cases in connection with illegal sand mining. “These cases were reported