Nothing draws sharper disapproval these days than granite quarrying. The situation is no different in Kannur which, during the floods last year, witnessed massive landslips, especially at Karikkottakkari and Parakkamala in Ayyankunnu panchayat and Ambayathode at Kottiyur. There were minor landslips in the hill areas in August.
According to geologists, the topsoil in the hill areas in the region is laterite. Over-saturation of the soil in the slopes can cause landslips.
Greens blame quarries
Environmental activists, however, blame granite quarries for the increasing cases of landslips. The Western Ghats Protection Council (WGPC), a collective of local environmental activists, in a random survey a few years ago found that most of the mining spots are situated in environmentally sensitive areas.
“The number of granite quarries in the district has come down over the years, but there is no mechanism to assess the quantity of materials extracted from the quarries,” said Vinod Payyada, coordinator of the WGPC, which spearheads the demand for implementation of the Madhav Gadgil panel report on the Western Ghats. He said no landslips had been reported during the recent heavy rain in the areas where quarries had stopped functioning.
Mining and Geology Department officials says permits are not being issued for quarrying in ecologically vulnerable areas in the district as zone mapping of landslip-prone areas of the State had already been done. At present there are 60-odd granite quarries in the district.
“Laws are stringent and no unauthorised quarrying is possible now because we give mining permit to a quarry only if it has secured clearances from the Pollution Control Board, local bodies, and got explosive licence,” said V. Divakaran, senior geologist here. He also added that there were no granite quarries in Kannur where landslips had occurred.
Any discussion on extraction of natural resources for development is also a seesaw battle between demand and its impact. While granite quarrying in the vulnerable hill areas is said to spike the possibility of landslips in those areas, shortage of quarry materials affects construction activities and road works.