TIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With several inquiries initiated against the illegal stone mining activities in puramboke lands in Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala, the quarry owners are now allegedly duping the district administration by planting vegetation in the mined lands for retaining the encroached property. For the past several years, the quarries had been left open with no such activity initiated.
Taking a cue from the Supreme Court verdict that said the abandoned quarries should be restored through landfills and plantation of trees, the owners have started to fill the quarries in some places which had not been done for the last several years. “This is only to dupe the district administration to claim the land is under cultivation,” said activists from Thanalvedi and Western Ghats Protection Ekopana Samithi, organisations leading a fight against illegal quarrying.
Stating the quarry owners had not filled the huge gorges to restore the land till now, Thanalvedi general secretary S Unnikrishnan said the sudden change in their attitude had given rise to serious doubts about the actual intention. “All these years there were no attempts to restore the mined land. But only when inquiries began, they have started to fill the land. It is only an attempt to claim the rights over the poramboke lands. If the lands are said to be under cultivation, the revenue officers don’t take action,’’ he said, citing Therani Hills, where in Peringadavila Panchayat as an instance.
Unnikrishnan said the quarry owners had started cultivating pineapple in the region, in order to claim that the land was under cultivation for a long time. “The mined lands are filled with rock waste and then filled with mud. After this, they start cultivation. When the revenue authorities come for inspection, they see the land is being used for cultivation and not for mining purposes,” he said. A representation has been made to the authorities concerned to look into the issue, but no action has been taken in this regard.
Western Ghats Protection Ekopana Samithi convener Shaji Peringadavila, who concurred with Unnikrishnan on this front, said this was not limited to Peringadavila and Kunnathukal, but was quite evident in other places too. “The authorities never care to inspect the quarries. It is the revenue and mining officers who are aiding these quarry owners,’’ he said.