Thiruvananthapuram

Vellarada set to take on quarries

The hilly terrains of Vellarada are staring at an uncertain future.

The hilly terrains of Vellarada are staring at an uncertain future.  

Residents make appeal to CM after three firms obtain NOC from the panchayat

After a lull of two years, the ecologically fragile Vellarada and adjacent areas have again come under the threat of quarrying. Concerned over repercussions, local people are gearing up for another long-drawn agitation to conserve their land.

The many hill ranges, which form part of the tail-end of the Western Ghats, had come under focus in the past when constant attempts were made since 2010 to establish manufactured sand (M-sand) plants in the area. Vehement opposition raised by the residents, spearheaded by the Action Council Vellarada, against commencing the units had met with success.

Their efforts also led to the last of the 36 small-scale quarrying units winding up its operations two years ago.

According to action council president V. Resalayyan, several large quarrying firms had targeted the region over the years, but they were kept at bay.

Though the grama panchayat had earlier given approval for establishing M-sand factories, the decision had to be withdrawn following an order issued by the Principal Secretary of the Local Self-Government Department.

“However, three firms have now obtained no-objection certificates (NOC) from the panchayat and have sought the licences required to operate M-sand factories. They eye large tracts of land usurped by the quarry mafia after coercing local people to cede their properties at rates lower than the market prices,” he said.

6,000 families to be hit

The resumption of quarrying will destroy a major portion of the Vellarada grama panchayat as well as adjacent parts of the Amboori village, an ecologically sensitive area, they feared. Such activities also threaten to impact around 6,000 families. They have now pinned their hopes on the Kerala High Court, where they have filed two petitions against commencing the M-sand units.

As a prelude to their stir, the action council took out a torch rally from Vellarada to the city on Friday and submitted a petition to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the launch of the Nava Kerala Samskarika Rally being undertaken by the Purogamana Kala Sahithya Sangham.

3-day satyagraha

The action council will undertake an intense sensitisation campaign among the residents, following which they will launch a three-day satyagraha in front of the Vellarada grama panchayat office on February 11, demanding the withdrawal of the NOCs.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:55:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/vellarada-set-to-take-on-quarries/article26163795.ece

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