New licences only after public hearing
District Collector V.N. Jithendran has said that district-level and revenue division-level monitoring committees will be constituted soon to ensure strict compliance of various permit guidelines by operators of granite quarries and crusher units in the district.
The Collector was talking to reporters after inspecting two granite quarries at Chembanmudimala in Naranammoozhy grama panchayat in Ranni taluk on Wednesday. Villagers, under the aegis of the Janakeeya Pratirodha Samiti, have been laying siege to the two granite quarry-cum-crusher units at Chembanmudimala for the past two weeks, alleging gross violation of guidelines as well as key provisions in various Acts by the operators, besides alarming environmental pollution caused by the units.
The monitoring committees, comprising officials of local bodies, Mining and Geology Department, Revenue Department, and the State Pollution Control Board, would periodically inspect various granite quarries in the district so as to ensure strict compliance of the guidelines, he said.
The Collector said the panchayats would be directed to conduct a public hearing before granting new licence or renewing licence to granite quarries.
Mr. Jithendran said the Deputy Controller of Explosives in Kochi would examine the use of explosives at various granite quarries in the district.
The Collector had found violation of certain key permit guidelines and provisions in the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules as well as the Mines Act at both the quarries.
Mr. Jithendran said Thiruvalla Revenue Divisional Officer A. Gopakumar had been directed to examine whether any encroachment of the government property had taken place at Chembanmudimala.
The Collector told The Hindu that he would explore the possibility of extending better healthcare facility to children and other seriously ill patients under the Karunya Scheme of the government, in consultation with the District Lottery Officer, soon.
People’s Action Council leaders said that that not less than 15 local residents, 10 of them children, were suffering from cancer, chronic bronchitis and various lung ailments. The Collector said a medical team headed by the District Medical Officer would soon visit the affected villages and would submit a detailed report to him before April 20.
As many as 3,000 villagers, including women and children assembled at Chembanmudimala, hearing about the Collector’s inspection of the quarries on Wednesday. The action council leaders showed the Collector the degeneration of two natural canals, Karnamkuthithode and Erumelythode, which originated from the Chembanmudimala.