Bring quarries under govt. control: Assembly panel

Taking serious note of environmental problems caused by quarries, a Kerala Assembly panel has called for the formulation of a comprehensive mining policy for the State and recommended that quarries should be brought under government control.

The recommendations are part of a special report prepared by the Assembly Committee on Environment on the environmental problems caused by quarries and crusher units. The panel headed by Mullakkara Ratnakaran, MLA, tabled its report in the House on Monday.

No quarries other than the 723 licensed ones should be allowed to operate in the State. Approvals issued to these also should be cancelled if the rules are violated, the panel noted.

A mining policy, based on guidelines issued by the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court, is required for making quarry and crusher unit operations environment-friendly and scientific. Instead of issuing licences to individuals, quarries should be brought under public ownership/government control, according to the recommendations.

Soil study vital

Scientific studies on the impact of quarrying and mining/filling of soil on soil structure and waterbodies are needed, the committee said. “Although there is little doubt that the tremors caused by mining would loosen nearby soil, it needs to be scientifically proven whether quarry operations are a cause of landslips in Kerala. The committee recommends that studies should be carried out by agencies such as the Geological Survey of India or the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) in this regard.”

The term of environmental clearance should be reduced from the current five years, it noted. The use of chemicals like ammonium nitrate for rock fragmentation in quarries should be discarded. Licences of quarries that fail to use non-electrical technology (NONEL) for blasting should be withdrawn. Further, the committee wanted the minimum distance between quarries and human habitations to be increased to 200 metres.

Regular monitoring

The government departments concerned should form a mechanism for monitoring quarries on a regular basis. Regional monitoring committees comprising peoples’ representatives, social workers and government officials are needed to ensure that rules are followed. The panel has also recommended proper monitoring mechanisms at the village and panchayat levels.

The committee also wanted the government to control the price of rock as it is a natural resource to which everyone has equal right. Quarry owners should be directed to supply a fixed volume to BPL families residing in the vicinity of the quarries at subsidised rates, it said.

The committee had conducted sittings in Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts and visited quarries for preparing the report.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 4:39:43 pm |