KERALA

Rights panel visits Maruti hillock

Staff Reporter

KOLLAM: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) member S. Varghese visited the Maruti hillock at Muttara, near here, on Saturday for an on-the-spot study of the environmental problems there.

The visit comes in the wake of the allegations that the Maruti hillock was facing destruction owing to the operation of illegal granite quarries there.

Environmental activists, under the banner of the Marutimala Samrakshana Samskarika Samithy, have been campaigning against the operation of the quarries for the past two years. Though the Samithy is armed with a High Court order banning granite quarrying using jackhammers, the hillock continues to be mined using such equipment.

Prof. Varghese visited the hillock after studying the complaint to the SHRC by Odanavattom Vijayaprakash, general convener of the Samithy, and R. Ajayan, convener of the Plachimada Aikya Dhardya Samara Samithy.

Mining

The lives of the people living near the hillock is under threat from the mining. Boulders have crashed into some of the houses in the vicinity of the mine.

A high school is located below the hillock. Three years ago, a piece of rock from the mine hit a school girl. She was in hospital for a few months. The Samithy also attaches cultural importance to the hillock.

On arrival at Marutimala, Prof. Varghese talked to the people residing near the hill. He visited the school and called on the girl who was injured three years ago. The owners of the houses damaged by the blasts at the mine also gave testimonies. The Samithy members demanded that the hillock be preserved as an ecotourism centre.

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