Tamil Nadu

PWD shuts down seven quarries in Tiruchi region

All sand quarries on the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers under the control of the Public Works Department (PWD), Tiruchi Region, were shut suddenly on Friday night following a Madras High Court ruling on manual loading in seven of them.

The PWD had obtained permission for operating a total of 42 quarries across the State, of which only 21 were functioning till Friday. From the 21 sand quarries, over 6,000 truck loads of sand were being mined away every day. Recently, some social and environmental activists led by Ettikkan of Koyampalli village in Karur district moved the Madras High Court seeking to ban the PWD from using excavators for mining; they also demanded that the department adopt only manual loading.

Acting on the petition, the Madras High Court ruled that only manual loading must be done in nine of the 21 functioning sand quarries. It further asked the PWD to secure an amendment to the Environmental Clearance granted by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for using excavators, if it desired so. Following this, the PWD had little option but to force-shut all the functioning quarries.

Of the nine quarries listed to come under the manual loading mode, seven are in PWD, Tiruchi Region, while the other two come under PWD Chennai Region. Those in Tiruchi region are at Unniyur, Manmedu, Sullangudy, Kariyamanickam West, Kiliyanallur, Thiruvasi and Nanjaithottakurichi, while Kamatchipettai and Azhankathan sand quarries are in the Chennai region.

PWD sources told The Hindu on Saturday that when it became clear that only two quarries in Tiruchi region and an equal number in Chennai region could function effectively [following the HC order], most of the truck operators tried to rush towards those quarries, leading to a hazardous situation. Fearing further trouble, the PWD halted mining operations temporarily.

Closure condemned

“It is condemnable that all the quarries were shut in a single day without any prior notice. What we want is sand quarrying without any legal violations. We have been demanding online booking and cashless transactions to eliminate all malpractices. Only that would benefit the PWD, truckers, buyers and all other stakeholders,” Sella Rajamani, president of the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Federation, observed.

An official of the PWD River Conservation Division said that they had “temporarily suspended” operations at the quarries as they could not immediately mobilise the labourers for manual operations as per the HC order. The quarries would resume functioning within the next few days after adequate labourers were mobilised, he said.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:56:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pwd-shuts-down-seven-quarries-in-tiruchi-region/article18314640.ece

Next Story