The residents allege that the illegal quarries have support from local politicians and bureaucrats.

Quarry country Kollam Owners in Kerala continue to mine without environmental clearances
news Environment Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 17:12

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling not to renew licence for quarries, which has not obtained environmental clearance, illegal quarrying has become rampant at Kudavattur in Veliyam village of Kollam district in Kerala.

The local residents of the area have formed the ‘Save Kudavattur Forum’ against rampant illegal quarrying. In a fresh complaint to the district collector submitted on April 15, the residents of the area have highlighted environmental problems and issue of water scarcity they are faced with due to quarrying. As per the complaints, the illegal quarrying is being carried out in the quarries owned by Aliyar and Abdul Salam. 

According to the residents of Veliyam village, two of the quarries at Paramukku, in Kudavattur started quarrying illegally on April 14.  Taking advantage of continuous holidays, the quarry mafia allegedly decided to resume illegal quarrying. The local residents allege that the quarry owners choose the holidays to shift rocks from the spot, to avoid inspection from the authorities. 

“Revenue officials and authorities of the Veliyam Grama Panchayat have been turning a blind eye towards the issue. They are not ready to take action on our complaint. Local politician also support the quarry owners. The quarry owners have been trying to resume the illegal activity by hiding it from the local people. We suspect the quarry owners have bribed the authorities,” said Manoj N Y, a resident of Kudavattur.

The Supreme Court order of February 2012 said that mining of minor minerals like granite should undergo environment impact assessment and environment clearance procedure under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. In June 2016, the High Court also held that environmental clearance is mandatory for all quarrying operations in the state.

The quarry owners had earlier stopped illegal quarrying, following the HC order that was passed after the local residents complained to the District Collector and to the Revenue officials.  “One of the quarry owners is the brother of a police officer of DYSP rank, facing serious allegations and has strong bureaucratic influence. Although the natives filed complaints to Kollam district collector and Tahasildar of Kottarakkara Taluk, no action was taken from the authorities’ part,”  said Sugi Lal, another resident of Kudavattur.

Rampant quarrying has caused the groundwater level in the area to dip, the local residents allege. According to data from the Ground Water Department, Veliyam Panchayat has recorded a dip of 3.6 metres in the groundwater level from October 2015 to October 2016. As per the data the ground water level is the lowest in Veliyam Panchayat.

 

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