The 14-member State Environmental Appraisal Committee has postponed its scheduled inspection of Chembanmudy hillock in Naranammoozhy grama panchayat in Ranni taluk on Saturday reportedly owing to the inconvenience of two panel members.
Official sources told The Hindu that the panel would fix a new date for inspection at its next meeting to be held on 13. The panel decided to conduct an environment impact assessment at Chembanmudy following an application it received from Tony Abraham of Manimalethu Granites and the allegation levelled by the People’s Action Council that a natural stream, Ponnaruvithode, that originated from the hillock had been illegally modified by the quarry operators.
An action council formed by the villagers and the Chembanmudy Protection Council have been organising a mass movement for three months demanding a total ban on quarrying and granite crushing at Chembanmudy.
Meanwhile, an expert team of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) comprising R. Sajeev, senior geologist, and Gaurav Kumar Singh, geologist, had found unscientific quarrying activity and dumping of overburden material, mainly laterite, along the south-western flank of the Chembanmudy hillock as the main cause for the landslide occurred there on May 5.
The GSI report said that the overburden material, removed before rock quarrying, was found deposited along the hill slope, with out considering the slope stability aspects. This, coupled with the roads constructed have modified the course of three streams, the report said.
The report further said that the concrete water storage tanks constructed near a buried stream-course had created additional pressure on the loose overburden material. The GSI experts has also observed unscientific hill slope modification and alteration of natural streams for quarry-related activities as key factors leading to the landslide in May.
The GSI report also warned against chances of a catastrophic pond-break during the peak monsoon season, if the separating column containing filled debris material fails to withstand the heavy pressure created by the huge volume of pond water.