Stir at granite quarry in Chembanmudy

Agitated villagers of Naranammoozhy panchayat in Ranni taluk detained Revenue Divisional Officer A. Gopakumar at the controversial granite quarry at Chembanmudy on Wednesday, demanding immediate filling up of the water-logged cavities formed by illegal quarrying.

A large number of villagers, including women, assembled there under the banner of the people’s action council and the Chembanmudy Protection Council in view of the RDO’s visit.

The RDO had permitted entry of 30 workers into the quarry of the Kavunkal Granites at Chembanmudy for draining out the water collected in the deep cavities in an effort to alleviate the public fear of a possible landslip in the rains during the monsoon. Two weeks ago, following incessant rains, a minor landslip had occurred at Chembanmudy.

The action council leaders opposed the RDO’s direction saying that mere draining out of the cavities would not serve the purpose, especially in the imminent monsoon. They demanded filling up of the cavities with the granite pieces to avoid further collection of water in them. However, the RDO said he was not supposed to issue any direction to that effect as it involved legal issues.

The agitated people detained the RDO for about an hour till All India Congress Committee member Peelipose Thomas reached the spot by 12 noon.

Mr. Thomas, who has been supporting the public agitation against the granite quarries at Chembanmudy, along with the action council leaders Bose Varghese Kaithala, Shaji Pathalil, and Anu Samadhanathil, held talks with the RDO at the panchayat office at Athikkayam, later. However, the RDO stuck to his stand.

The Congress leader warned of strong public protest in the event of any attempt to rehabilitate the Kavumkal Granites at Chembanmudy. Mr. Thomas said the quarry owner should give compensation to the villagers. He alleged that the RDO permitted 30 workers to enter the quarry while the Kerala High Court had permitted only three employees and two rubber tapping workers to enter the area.

Mr. Thomas said the people of Chembanmudy would defeat the evil designs of the “official-quarry mafia nexus” through non-violent agitation.

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