No political protection for quarry owners: Rajeeve

Asserting that no quarry owner will get political protection of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government, Industries Minister P.Rajeeve on Monday told the Assembly that the number of quarries in Kerala had come down progressively over the past decade.

He was replying to discussions on the Kerala Coir Workers’ Welfare Fund (Amendment) Bill, Kerala Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Facilitation (Amendment) Bill, and the Kerala Minerals (Vesting of Rights) Bill, all of which were passed on Monday.

He said there were 3,104 licensed quarries in the State in 2010-11, while the number had come down to 1,514 in 2016. Currently, there were 604 licensed quarries in the State.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said more than 6,000 quarries were functioning illegally in the State, even though only 600 have licences. Mining was being done from more areas than that were allocated in the licences.

Mr.Rajeeve said Mining and Geology Department officials had been instructed to identify illegal quarries and take action. He also requested all MLAs to provide information on illegal quarries, if any, in their constituencies.

To questions on why the Government appealed in the Supreme Court against the National Green Tribunal’s rule stipulating 200-m minimum distance from residential areas for quarries, he said the Government stand was based on the existing central mining Act.

Responding to Manjalamkuzhi Ali’s questions on lack of progress of projects announced at the Ascent 2020 investors’ meet, he said 22 of the 151 projects announced at the meet had been completed while 59 were in the implementation stage and 31 had been scrapped.

Compared to this, only six of the 148 projects announced at the Emerging Kerala investors’ meet during the UDF Government’s tenure had been completed, while ten were under implementation and 96 projects had been scrapped.

During discussions on the Coir Workers’ Welfare Fund (amendment) Act, Mr. Rajeeve said the administrative expenses of the fund had now been reduced to just 2.3% of the total revenue. But, the share of the workers in the fund was still low at 0.7%, with the Government’s pension grants in the last five years amounting to ₹530 crore.

A new land allotment policy for industries would be implemented with simplified procedures. A status report of the unused land in industrial estates was being prepared. Some of the land were caught up in legal tangles.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 3:01:56 PM |

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