Kallidichavila residents say the quarry is a source of drinking water in the entire area.

Spirited protest by local people at Kallidichavila, near here, on Thursday put paid to the attempt by the district administration to carry out activities preparatory to dumping garbage in an abandoned quarry in the area.

The quarry at Kallidichavila is one of the three in the capital city selected by the State government to deposit garbage. In all, the government has identified 20 quarries in the city for the purpose.

Well before the team of Revenue officials led by RDO Mohammed Mustafa and officials of the Suchitwa Mission — escorted by a posse of policemen — reached the quarry, scores of men women and children had gathered on the road leading to the site.

By 10.15 a.m., when the convoy of vehicles bearing the officials and policemen was sighted, dozens of agitators ran forward and squatted on the road to prevent the vehicles from moving forward.

The RDO’s request to the agitators to disperse was met with angry response from the leaders of various political parties, including the local Corporation councillor, G. Vinod. “I know your house is at Vembayam. There is a quarry nearby. Why don’t you first take garbage to that quarry,” Mr. Vinod asked the RDO. “Why were you not able to take garbage to Vilappilsala,” he asked.

Soon after, the agitators brought forward young children and seated them on the frontlines of the protest. Local leaders of the CPI(M), Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who addressed the agitators warned that any attempt by the district administration to use force against the people would have dire consequences.

M.A Vaheed, MLA, who reached the spot an hour later told the agitators that the proposal to dump garbage in quarries was an unscientific one. He pledged his support to the agitation and promised to take up the issue with the government.

Close to two hours after the official convoy reached Kallidichavila, the agitation was over, with the RDO announcing that the Revenue team was going back.

Drinking water

Residents of Kallidichavila who spoke to The Hindu pointed out that contrary to what government officials had been saying, the quarry served as a source of drinking water to the entire area.

“The wells of the local people were perennially full because of the water in the quarry,” said Abdul Kalam, a local resident. “It is wrong to think that this quarry contains only rainwater. There is a bountiful upsurge of groundwater in the quarry. If garbage is dumped here, the results would be nothing short of disastrous for the local people,” he added.

Prudent step

Others too were of the view that the prudent step would be to protect this quarry as a source of drinking water instead of dumping garbage in it.

“All these problems have come about because we were made part of the Corporation. Maybe we should go back to being a panchayat,” an agitator added.