Local residents want closure of quarries in the region; village’s protest got support from the district unit of the Aam Aadmi Party

A visit by the District Collector to the Mookunnimala area in Pallichal grama panchayat, caught in a standoff between the local residents and quarry owners there, appears to have done little to pacify the residents, who on Monday reiterated that they would settle for nothing else but closure of the quarries in the region.

Pointing out that the issue was not just lorries plying round the clock through their residential area, leaving clouds of dust in the air, the residents, led by a local action council, said the incessant quarrying in 16 quarries had now led to the monkeys in the Mookunnimala hills now coming down into their homes.

This was apart from the health hazards that they and their children were already facing.

Monkey nuisance

“We now have monkeys prancing in and out of our homes if we do not keep the doors and windows closed all the time. We have also seen them being blown apart after straying into the blast sites of the quarries.

The Collector, who has already said that the ban on plying of quarry lorries would continue, came here on Sunday, patiently heard us and said he would submit a report. But we want stern action. And we mean closure of the quarries, nothing short of it,” members of the action council said on Monday.

The residents also alleged that several of them, particularly those who stood up against the quarry owners, including government officials, were now being targeted by owners of some quarries, who were filing cases against them with the quarry owners even going to the extent of asking for police protection ‘just because the locals protested against the lorries.’

Pointing out that muscle power also was being used to suppress them, as was seen last week when a few miscreants tried to attack and create panic among women protestors at Pallichal, some of the residents said they feared attacks from hired gangs.

Meanwhile, the village’s protest got support from the district unit of the Aam Aadmi Party, which has set up a 10-member committee to study the issue and to see how they could support the villagers on the matter. AAP representatives met the action council and the residents on Monday, extending their support to the agitation.

The action council, its members said, has decided to wait for a few more days to see how the Collector’s visit would help them, before the agitation was intensified.