Madhav Gadgil, eminent ecologist, has alleged that 1,700 illegal quarries are operating in the crest line of sensitive areas of the Western Ghats in Kerala.

Dr. Gadgil, who had chaired the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, the report of which led to an uproar in the State, was speaking at a function organised by the Central University of Orissa, Koraput, to confer the Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) on him.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh was present.

“People are very upset about the large number of stone quarries in Kerala. All across the crest line of the Western Ghats in Kerala, there are stone quarries and machines which crush stone into sand,” he said.

“Now, apparently there are 2,700 quarries, out of which 1,700 are illegal. They have no licence from the Collector, they have been denied permission to operate by the village panchayats.... but still they are operating.”

Dr. Gadgil, who is unhappy with the suggestions made by the K. Kasturirangan committee, which had gone into the WGEEP report and suggested amendments, said that had the government taken his panel’s report seriously, such a situation would not have arisen in Kerala. A section had even tried to make sure that people did not come to know about what was in the WGEEP report.

“Our foremost recommendation was that it should be immediately translated into local languages and it should be taken to the all the gram sabhas in the Western Ghats to let them debate this, and based on the feedback, all decisions should be taken. But it did not happen,” he said.

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