Sandwashed Banks of Profit


“I was badly hurt. I knew of many others who were equally and many a times, more hurt than me. Blood was flowing under my feet. I’d never noticed it. Never in such graphic detail.”

I was at Chalakudy, in one of my friend’s home. It was an evening, when the sun was almost hidden behind the horizon, that we went to the nearby river – the “Chalakudy River”. Its only a few meters away from his house, and I felt very much home, mostly because of a similar environment at my grandparents house. My eyes were eager to see a sand bed, which slowly recedes to the flow of the river. And then, like the backwaters of alleppy depicted in “God of Small Things”, the river unfolded itself in front of me. More like a stream running through the forest, rather than a mighty river. Filled with greenery, in a place where you expect more of sand and less of vegetation. This was a complete reversal of roles. Beneath my feet were tiny shrubs, leaves, climbers, crawlers, and all sorts of vegetation that you normally see beside a stream inside a forest. And then I looked at the water – a green livin body, trying to find its place in this dense forest. A completely different sight, compared to the river in my home town – “Bharatapuzha”.

Then my friend explained to me in details how he used to swim in the river, how he enjoyed playing football on the sand shores of “Chalakudy River”, and many more ephemeral joys of childhood associated with that mighty river of his.

Once sand washed shores of Chalakudy river

Once sand washed banks of Chalakudy river

I now recollect the sacrifices made by the Govt. officials, police officers and moreover the people at my home town, who protested against the Illegal Sand mining that almost took the life out of our “Bharatapuzha”. I am sure that a similar fight would have been made by the people of Chalakudy to save their’s too, but in vain.

To give you an idea about how bad the situation is, I could see sand being dug out from every possible place at the banks of the river. Deep craters, where many have fallen to the ultimate fate of their’s, a small sacrifice for the exuberant profits made by their masters. It is difficult to stand against them. The laws themselves can’t stand the force of grains of “sand-money”, and so I am least surprised to see the officials falling prey to them.

At the present market rates, the illegally mined sand is sold for almost 3 times the price, and even then the people opt for it. Why ? The answer that I got was : a long bureaucratic process, which would take atleast a month to deliver its promised share of sand. I can’t suggest any improvements to this flattered system of our’s, but I do stand in support of those who are fighting for their right to recollect their “ephemeral joys of childhood”, and pass on them to their children.

I’ve never been hurt so much by this reality of our times. Never noticed it in such detail, that it makes you think of those who fight for our rights. I hope that the Sand Washed Banks of Profit, gets back its due – the sand.

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