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Quarry owners threaten to go on indefinite strike

Intervention of the State government sought to help out the industry that is facing an ‘unprecedented crisis’

January 23, 2023 11:58 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:11 am IST - KOCHI

The Small Scale Quarry and Crusher Association (SSQA) has threatened to go on an indefinite strike from January 31 unless the State government intervenes to help out the industry that is facing an unprecedented crisis.

Addressing the media here on Monday, SSQA general secretary M.K. Babu said the association had no other alternative but to strike work if help was not forthcoming. Countless quarries and crushers entailing investments running into crores are remaining closed in the State.

The government is duty-bound to protect the quarry industry that annually contributes over ₹1,500 crore to the exchequer. The State now has only 700-odd quarries in the place of around 3,000 in the past, and many of them remain closed.

The association office-bearers accused the bureaucracy of sabotaging the pro-industry initiatives of the Chief Minister and the Industries Minister. Officials of the Geology department are doing nothing and declining to sign any file fearing vigilance inquiry.

Even major soil-based projects are being starved of raw materials. Boulders are being brought from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka even for major projects across seven districts in the State thus stripping the State exchequer of its revenue, they said.

The association alleged that unscientific allegations were being raised against quarries and called for an unbiased study on quarries in the State. Even courts are being misled.

The association alleged that many pro-environment activists were benamis of big quarries. No quarries are being operated in areas recently hit by landslips. The association challenged to prove otherwise in which case they said they were prepared to abandon the industry.

Small quarry and crusher operators are not even able to repay bank loans. Around 40 lakh people are dependent on the industry. Hence, the government should intervene for the reopening of quarries and crushers. The future plan of action will be formulated the State meeting of the association to be held in Kochi on January 31.

Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas will inaugurate the meeting to be held at Bolgatty Palace. Former Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan will inaugurate the environment seminar, and industrialist Santhosh George Kulangara will inaugurate the industrial seminar.

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