Karnataka

Complaints about illegal quarrying fall on deaf ears in Shivamogga

The blast site at Hunasodu in Shivamogga district.   | Photo Credit: Prakash Hassan

For many years, the residents of Hunasodu, Kallu Ganguru, and Abbanagere, and those living in layouts close to the Shivamogga-Shikaripura road, have complained to the district administration about the blasts and illegal quarry activities in their area. However, the administration has hardly taken any action to stop this.

The administration has sanctioned quarry leases of building stone material at Sulebylu, Gajjenahalli, and Kallu Ganguru villages of Shivamogga taluk over an extent of 32.25 acres.

The locals who live close to the quarry points hear blasts and experience tremors often. They have submitted several memorandums to the Deputy Commissioner and officers of the Mines and Geology Department and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, besides complaining to the Karnataka Lokayukta.

K.P. Sripal, advocate and spokesperson of Swaraj India’s Shivamogga district unit, said the illegal activities in Abbanagere, Hunasodu, Gejjenahalli, Jagatikoppa and other areas were very well known to the officers of the district administration. “The quarry owners use explosives extensively. Whenever the locals complain or stage protests on the issue, the administration issues notice, but does not bother to act. Shockingly, Ministers and legislators often instruct officers not to stop the mining activities, saying that it would affect development works. This clearly shows that the people involved in illegal activities have the support of influential people,” he said.

Residents of layouts on the city’s outskirts have often complained to the administration about the blasts. Shashi Sampalli, a resident of Shivamogga, told The Hindu that his place was barely 3 km from a quarry point. “We often hear blasts at night and have brought this to the notice of senior officers. But no action has been taken.”

Notice from KSPCB

Residents have also complained to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) many times about the pollution caused by the crushing units. A KSPCB official told The Hindu whenever they received complaints, they issued notice to the quarry owners instructing them to take corrective measures. “The dust from the crushing units caused air pollution in the area. Upon receiving the complaints, we held meetings with representatives of the association of those into mining,” an officer said on condition of anonymity.

Following the incident, a news report published in a Kannada daily in 2015 quoted the then Leader of the Opposition in the Council K.S. Eshwarappa instructing officials not to act on those involved in mining. Former MLA and Congress leader K.B. Prasanna Kumar told The Hindu, “All quarry owners enjoy the patronage of powerful people, including Eshwarappa, who is now the Minister in charge of Shivamogga district. If the police or any other official stops an illegal act, they will immediately get a call from the Minister.”

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 9:31:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/complaints-about-illegal-quarrying-fall-on-deaf-ears-in-shivamogga/article33651807.ece

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