Maletha’s women spearhead campaign against stone crushers

Sita Devi is on a fast-unto-death to demand cancellation of licences

Published - January 25, 2015 03:02 am IST - Dehradun

Women of Maletha gram sabha protest against the operation of stone crushers in their village.

Women of Maletha gram sabha protest against the operation of stone crushers in their village.

A month into protests against stone crushers mining in the agriculturally-rich Maletha gram sabha, the women of the village have decided to spearhead the campaign. They have taken the lead to demand the State government to cancel the licences of five stone crushers.

The protests started on August 13, 2014 after the State government granted licences to the crushers to mine in the region. The protests continued for 42 days and ended when Tehri District Magistrate Yugal Kishore Pant gave orders for the stone crushers to stop operations. However, operations were restored when the Nainital High Court in an order dismissed the District Magistrate’s orders. The villagers then restarted their protest in December, which entered the 33rd day, on Saturday.

Sita Devi, a villager, is on a fast-unto-death since January 20 to demand cancellation of the order. Sita Devi said, “I am on a fast-unto-death for the protection of my fields, and my forests. Agricultural produce from the fields is an important source of income for us, and for many villagers it is the only source of income.”

According to the villagers, Maletha was of importance also because it was barren until it was made agriculturally productive by the efforts of Madho Singh Bhandari in the 16th century.

Sameer Raturi, of the Himalaya Bachao Aandolan, said, “Forest land and the river in Maletha fall within a 100-metre range of the area proposed for the stone crushers to operate, and some residential buildings fall within 125 metres. The dust from the stone crushers will be detrimental to the land; their proximity to the houses will affect the health of the villagers.”

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