New Delhi: Jazeera V, a resident of Kannur, has been waging a spirited and resolute campaign against the sand mafia in Kerala for at least a year and a half now. The incessant quarrying to feed the ever expanding property market and construction boom has led to the rapid receding of the beach line – endangering the coastline throughout the state. Jazeera recalls that the beach near her home which used to be the size of a football field is now reduced to a footpath. But she says hers is not the battle to save merely the strip of land outside her home, but to preserve the fragile coastline for the future generations and to avert an ecological and natural disaster, which is bound to occur if the current pace of quarrying continues.
After confronting the local administration and mafia in Kannur, Jazeera took her protests to Trivandrum. Her dharna drew the support of a cross section of people, and environmental groups. Chief Minister Oomen Chandy invited her for talks assuring of her cracking down on the sand mafia. Jazeera however is not impressed and wants a written assurance. This has not been forthcoming despite her sit in continuing for 60 days. Jazeera has now come to Delhi to raise the issue in the capital, as well as to galvanise support for her cause. She is camping at Jantar Mantar with her children, determined to make her voice heard by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
For her persistent efforts to get the laws against indiscriminate quarrying implemented, Jazeera has been viciously hounded, even physically attacked. She has been dubbed a bad mother for carrying her three children with her to her protests; she has been accused of working against the interests of the labourers employed by mining contractors. To each of these accusations, Jazeera, an auto rickshaw driver by profession, responds with calm conviction. She says she is working to ensure that her children and the coming generations do not suffer the depredations of excessive quarrying. Jazeera says that the only interests that the ceaseless mining serves is that of the rich mining contractors.
Jazeera V’s tenacious fight against the powerful sand mafia and its patrons in the administration and political establishment is inspiring. We appeal to you all to support her. Those in Delhi, please visit her at Jantar Mantar (outside Kerala Bhawan) to express your solidarity.
Read an Inspiring Profile of Jazeera V here by Shahina K K in the Open Magazine.