Residents of villages around Kinathukadavu off Coimbatore – Pollachi Road are fearing depletion of groundwater level due to the excessive quarrying of stone in the region. Besides causing noise and sound pollution, frequent movement of heavy-duty trucks laden with huge quantities of stone have damaged small roads in these villages.
A resident of Veerappagoundanur said cracks had been developed in his house due to huge explosions in a quarry nearby. Trucks carrying stones from quarries, mainly being transported to Kerala, were also causing accidents as they were driven negligently through relatively small roads in villages, he added.
A land owner at the nearby Singaiyanpudur village said a quarry operator flouted several norms including not maintaining adequate distance from the public road and using explosives without issuing warning. Pieces of rocks landed in his farm when huge explosions happened he alleged.
A visit to a quarry at Singaiyanpudur on August 2 found out that the operator was not issuing any warning before explosions. Workers in large numbers were present in the quarrying pit when the explosions happened. The operator quarried stone by cutting a small hillock vertically by half, leaving the remaining portion due to the presence of a traditional place of worship of a tribe on its top, alleged locals.
Farmer-turned-activist A. Sundaram from Veerappagoundanur said the situation was not different in the case of other quarries in the region. Mr. Sundaram approached the Southern Zone of the National Green Tribunal seeking action against the quarries that violated mining norms. Majority of the operators in the region were not following most of the 16 conditions given by the Revenue and the Geology and Mining Departments, he alleged.
Sources with the Geology and Mining Department said that officials inspected 100-odd quarries in the district recently to check compliance to various norms, permits and safety aspects.
V. Sasikumar, Assistant Director, Geology and Mining, said the Department was in the process of imposing fines to operators who flouted norms. “Details of violations and fine amount will be compiled by Wednesday,” he said.
A senior official from the Revenue Department hinted that fines to the tune of more than ₹ 40 crore had been imposed on violators so far.