Community in distress as illegal activity lays waste farmland, damages homes
After a lull, the blasts have come back to haunt them. The community, which had enjoyed tranquil evenings in the recent weeks, is distressed again as the stillness is shattered by successive blasts due to quarrying in the hillock adjacent to Kenchankuppe and Kallugopalli villages, near Bidadi.
The deafening blasts, generating huge quantities of stone dust from the quarry — just a few hundred metres away from the busy Bangalore-Mysore State Highway — have not only affected the community’s peace but also threatens to destroy their homes, many of which have developed cracks in the impact of previous blasts.
Back in action
Residents, who have been knocking on the doors of the district administration, various departments and also the Lokayukta over the last seven years seeking relief, say the situation in the village is back to what it was before March second week when the Lokayukta police disabled many of the crushers to stop them functioning.
“We are tired of complaining to the authorities; nothing seems to have had an impact. The blasts stopped for a brief period, but they have resumed,” said K.H. Chandrashekaraiah, a Kenchankuppe resident who has been fighting the quarrying. “They (officials) want us to file fresh applications now to stop quarrying,” he added.
Living in fear
Meanwhile, as blasting rocks the neighbourhood, the community members continue to live in fear of losing their homes as well as their health.
“A number of homes have developed cracks and in some instances the foundation has sunk. Most of us farmers have no money even to raise crops (fundamentally millets), how can we afford to repair houses?” said Papanna.
Many of those affected by the quarrying are agricultural labourers. While they live in mud hovels, those who live in concrete houses too are in despair as these structures too have developed cracks.
For Dasappa, who makes and sells brooms to shops in Bangalore, the problem only increased. Help did not come from any quarter when a portion of the mud wall of his modest home came crashing. “When I approached the gram panchayat, they asked me to show the foundation so that they could release the money for reconstruction. How can I show a foundation for an old mud house?” he asked even as an employee of the gram panchayat nodded in agreement.
“Our concrete house has long and huge cracks at two places. Nobody has come forward to help,” said a middle-aged woman who has lost her husband. “Electricity supply goes off after the blasts and the dust has been causing health hazards,” said the woman. She added that it was workers from Tamil Nadu who worked in the quarry and the crushers as none from the village went to work there.
However, some owners of the crushers insist that the quarrying and crushing no longer take place. Ironically, even as they spoke, tractors carrying stones were seen coming from the quarry and trundling towards the highway.
Asked to comment, Ramanagaram Deputy Commissioner Sriram Reddy said: “I have not received any complaints. But I will check.”