Over 3,000 stage a protest march to panchayat office

The People’s Action Councils at Chembanoly and Vakamukku in Naranammoozhy grama panchayat jointly took out a march to the panchayat office at Athikkayam near Ranni on Saturday, demanding a total ban on granite quarrying at Chembanmudy that has been identified as the tallest hill in the district.

A large number of women and children, wearing masks and holding placards took part in the march, seeking urgent action against the ‘illegal’ quarries and crusher units at Chenmbanmudy.

The protesters expressed their displeasure against the decision to shift the District Collector V. N. Jithendran, 48 hours after his inspection of the controversial granite quarries at Chembanmudy a few days ago.

Convinced of the risk to the health of the villagers owing to environmental pollution, the Collector had also announced medical aid to the villagers suffering from various lung and skin ailments.

The Collector had also detected grave irregularities and violation of rules in the functioning of two giant granite quarries at Chembanmudy for the past nine years.

The action council leaders alleged that the Collector’s transfer came in the next 48 hours of his inspection of the two controversial quarries that have been functioning without complying with the key rules and regulations in the Mining Act or conducting the mandatory Environment Impact Assessment.

Allen James, an eight-year old boy undergoing treatment for cancer, inaugurated the march.

“Doctor treating me at the Regional Cancer Centre advised me not to expose myself to the quarry dust anymore. There are nine others from my village who are presently undergoing treatment for cancer. We all urge the government to stop the quarries and save our lives, hills, and environment,” said Allen.

Saji Kottarathil, action council convener, presided over the meeting. Shaji Pathalil, Bose Varghese Kaithala, Anu Samadhanathil, John Mathew, Rajamma Sadanandan, and Mariyamma Perumboikayil, all action council leaders, and Rejani Thomas, grama panchayat member, also spoke.

All the leaders have taken strong exception to the Revenue Minister’s statement decrying the agitation against granite quarries. They alleged that the Minister’s statement suggesting investigation into the financial sources of the people’s action council was aimed at sabotaging the stir and a ploy to protect the interests of the quarry lobby.

As many as 3,000 people took part in the march.

  • Over 3,000 take out march to panchayat office

  • Collector shifted after he inspected quarries