Exercise follows disclosure by Gadgil that 1,700 illegal quarries operate in State

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil’s disclosure on illegal quarries in the Kerala part of Western Ghats has resulted in the Department of Mining and Geology planning to compile a list of quarries in the State.

The Directorate of Mining and Geology, Kerala, has written to all its district units to prepare a status report on quarries operating in their respective areas. The units may need some time to compile the list.

The directorate would be able to come out with its response on Prof. Gadgil’s statement after obtaining the list from the district units, said A. Prabhakumar, Director of Mining and Geology directorate.

Prof. Gadgil had stated that 1,700 illegal quarries were operating in the hill ranges of the State.

The revelation was made at a recent function in Odisha in the presence of Union Minister Jairam Ramesh. The ecologist went on to state that the quarries didn’t possess the licence issued by the District Collectors. They were operating defying the orders of village panchayats to stop quarrying, he said. At the same time, Mr. Prabhakumar said that the directorate had issued quarry licence of one-year validity to 2,308 units in the State.

Long-term mining licences were given to another 487 units with which they could operate for 12 years. The most number of quarries, including granite and laterite quarries, were located in Malappuram district, he said.

Kasturirangan report

The High Level Working Group on Western Ghats headed by K. Kasturirangan had suggested that no new quarries should be permitted in the 123 villages designated as ecologically sensitive areas. It had also suggested that the ones that were operating should be closed down once their licence expired.

The government had not yet made up its mind on the report and no orders had been issued regarding the implementation of the recommendations. However, the directorate would shortly come up with a list of mines in the areas.

A clear picture on the quarries of the State would emerge after completing the mapping of quarries in the State, said Mr. Prabhakumar.

Gadgil’s demand

Meanwhile, Prof. Gadgil wanted the State government to carry out transparent public auditing on mines and quarries in Kerala. The government should make public the satellite imagery and spatial data on quarries in the State. The licence number of the quarries and the survey number of the plots in which they were operating should be released. Transparent and scientific auditing of these units with the involvement of local people were needed, Prof. Gadgil told The Hindu.

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