After over five months of continuous protests by the residents of the Maletha gram sabha and environmentalists, the villagers still await an order from the Harish Rawat government on the cancellation of the licences of three stone crushers which are to operate in the agriculturally-rich Maletha gram sabha.
The protests gathered pace on June 6 when police lathi-charged the demonstrators, injuring several women. While some police officers responsible for the incident have been transferred, the protests continued demanding that the stone crushers’ licences be cancelled.
According to the villagers, Maletha was barren until it was made agriculturally productive by the efforts of Madho Singh Bhandari in the 16th Century.
Speaking to The Hindu , 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, and some residential buildings fall within 125 metres.”
The dust from the stone crushers would be detrimental to the rich agricultural land in Maletha and their proximity to the residential buildings will affect the health of the villagers, Mr. Raturi had said.
The residents’ protests began on August 13 last year when the State government granted licenses to stone crushers to mine in the agriculturally-rich region. The protests then continued for 42 days and ended when Tehri District Magistrate Yugal Kishore Pant gave orders for the stone crushers to stop operations. However, work resumed when the Nainital High Court over turned the District Magistrate’s orders.
The protests then resumed in December last year. The villagers said the protest will end only with the cancellation of licenses.