THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Reports of the impact of illegal quarry activities and encroachment in Mokkunnimala seems to have little impact on the district administration. No political decision is forthcoming with the administration distancing itself from taking action against encroachers and illegal quarry owners.
In June, the Vigilance submitted a survey report which revealed the illegal quarry activities in the area and recommended strong action. However, the district administration has been lagging in taking any action and quarry activities have continued unhindered for the past several months.
Stating that political will was needed more than anything to stop the illegal quarry activities and save the hill, Mookunnimala Samrakshana Samithi alleged the political machinery has always stood with quarry owners. They blamed all the three major political parties of not taking any stern decision. Though the leaders are aware of the gravity of the situation, they only stood by quarry owners as money was all-powerful, said a Samithi leader.
And without political will, administrative decisions get weakened, they said. Even after months of the report coming out, no political party has come out against illegal quarry activities on the hill, which only show where they stand, alleged the Samithi.
Meanwhile, CPM district secretary Anavoor Nagappan said there was no need for any political decision as the Collector as well as the district administration is powerful enough to act against illegal quarries. “The district administration can take legal action against illegal activities,” he said. “It is a known fact quarrying should not be done on government land. And if is being done, the authorities can take action against them; there is no need for any political decision in this.” He also said no political party supported illegal quarry activities in the region.
BJP district president S Suresh alleged the district administration had been taking a negative approach and have been lagging in taking any decision despite the reports. “The BJP has always been with the Samara Samithi and if needed will launch an agitation for saving the hill,” he said.
Some owners were engaged in quarry activities in the guise of a High Court order they claim allows quarrying. But Mookunnimala Samrakshana Samithi said the order does not mention undertaking mining activities; it only said the lease given to the land could not be cancelled. And in one of the orders, it has been mentioned quarry activities can be held if they have permission from all departments concerned. However, the police and the revenue officials had not even bothered to visit the quarries and check the permissions, the Samithi said.
The vigilance survey of November 23, 2016, found illegal mining activities in more than 130 acres of land and a large sect of poramboke land that was illegally converted to private lands. Apart from this, they noted mining activities were done in assigned lands which had been exclusively given for rubber cultivation. Licenses were issued ignoring provisions of the Kerala Mineral Concession Rules and the Special Rules for Assignment of Government Land for Rubber Cultivation, the vigilance found.