Kerala

Greens demand closure of illegal quarries

As several illegal stone quarries continue to operate in the district, the demand to close them down has gained strength.

Environmentalists and those affected by the operation of quarries have stepped up the protest in the wake of an order from the National Green Tribunal earlier this month directing the State governments to permit stone quarrying only if it is 200 metres from houses and public buildings in case blasting is involved, and 100 metres in case blasting is not involved.

The tribunal observed that the Kerala government’s decision to permit quarries at a distance of 50 metres from habitations, particularly when blasts were involved, was improper and could have a deleterious effect on the environment and public health.

It directed the Central Pollution Control Board to examine and lay down more stringent conditions and stipulate longer distance and convey the same to the State boards.

The Malabar Environment Committee, demanding closure of 190 quarries operating in the district, submitted a petition to District Collector T.V. Subhash. It demanded the closure of 70 granite quarries and 120 laterite quarries which were operating in the district in violation of the NGT orders.

Committee chairman Bhaskaran Vellore said the Kerala government had reduced the permissible distance to 50 metres to help the quarry mafia. The district administration did not consider the complaints lodged by many households which had suffered due to such quarrying operations.

He said two quarries in Choorappadav Paroth Neer in Cherupuzha panchayat, six in Peringome panchayat, six in Pedena, two in Peruvamba in Eramam Kuttur panchayat, two in Kakkara, three in Alakkode panchayat, eight in Payatuchal, Chepparamba, Nediyenga, Chamberi and Areekamala panchayats in Sreekandapuram municipality and six in Naduvil panchayat, including Vaithalmala and Kudiyanmala, three at Chandanakampara in Payyavoor panchayat were operating illegally.

Seventy granite quarries in Ulikkal panchayat, two at Peratta in Iritty, three in Edoor, eight in Vaniyapara and Parakkamala in Ayyankunnu panchayat, four in Nedumpoyil panchayat, 12 in Narikottumala and Kalluvalappu in Kunnothuparambu panchayat were within 200 metres and 120 laterite quarries were within 100 metres of houses, he said.

The committee welcomed the NGT’s order as the same ruling applied to the amendment brought to the Kerala Minor Minerals Convention Act dated June 12 that allowed the removal of 20,000 sqm of ordinary mineral without any permission, Mr. Bhaskaran said.

Vinod Payyada, member, District Environmental Committee, said that there were several illegal quarries operating in the district and other parts of the State.

Time and again, despite the orders, the authorities had turned a blind eye to the violations carried out by quarries. The tribunal’s orders would give strength to the people to raise their voice against illegal operation of quarries, which had created a huge environmental impact in the State.

“The need of the hour is stringent action against the violators which will deter others from indulging in such activities in the future and protect the environment,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 2, 2020 2:15:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-demand-closure-of-illegal-quarries/article32215449.ece

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