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Illegal stone quarrying near Seabird base a cause for concern

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Officials of Forest, and Mines and Geology departments remain mute to it

An iIlegal stone quarry at Berde village in Ankola taluk.
An iIlegal stone quarry at Berde village in Ankola taluk.

Illegal stone quarrying near the Seabird Naval Base tunnel at Berde village in Ankola taluk has become a cause for concern among the local people.

People of the village told The Hindu on Thursday that quarrying was rampant in the area and explosives were being used to blast the rocks. But the Police, Forest and Mines and Geology departments remained mute to this illegal quarrying as those behind it were politically connected.

They said though stone quarrying was banned in Uttara Kannada, it was going on at Berde village without any hindrance. Officials of the Forest, and Mines and Geology departments were scared to enter the village because the threat from illegal quarry owners. Quarrying was under way in the Western Ghats area, they alleged.

The bunkers built by the Navy and the tunnel connecting the naval site are within 50 metres of illegal quarries. The people of the village said that stones from these illegal quarries were being supplied to the contractors who had taken up construction work inside the naval base. Scarcity of raw material such as stones had affected the work inside the naval base. It was because of this, the naval officials were silent on illegal quarrying, they said. Naval officials were not available for comment.

The people alleged that some senior officials from the Department of Forests were hand-in-glove with the illegal quarry owners. Ramakrishna Nayak, who has been protesting against encroachment of the forestland by illegal quarry owners, alleged that despite his repeated letters, the forest officials were silent on the matter.

He said quarrying was rampant in agriculture and forestland. A road had been constructed in the forest without any permission, he alleged.

M.D. Todurkar, Assistant Conservator of Forests of Ankola, admitted that illegal quarrying was going on in the area and an FIR had been filed against those responsible for it.

He said that it was the responsibility of the Mines and Geology Department to act against illegal quarrying.

G.G. Hegde, Deputy Director of Mines and Geology Department, said that illegal quarrying at Berde village had not come to the notice of the department.

He made it clear that nobody had been given permission for quarrying in the area. Officials of the department would check and file cases against the guilty, he said.

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