Vigilance and Enforcement officials conducting raids on the offices of granite quarries in Prakasam district are said to have found several irregularities in mining of Black Galaxy Granite (BGG).
It is learnt that the quarry owners are quarrying beyond the levels permitted by the Mines and Geology Department and Mines Safety authorities and also violating various norms related to safety of workers.
It may be mentioned here that the granite quarries in Chimakurthy, Ballikurava and Santamaguluru have a production capacity of nearly 4 lakh cubic meters and have an annual turnover of Rs 1,800 crore.
Several people’s representatives own the quarries. Addanki MLA Gottipati Ravikumar, Darsi MLA Buchepalli Siva Prasad Reddy, MLC Siddha Raghava Rao (TDP), Potula Rama Rao, half a dozen former MLAs and other politicians are into the granite business. The state government has received many complaints from several individuals, including mining experts and ecologists, regarding irregularities and violation of norms by the granite quarry owners.
It is also alleged that officials of the Vigilance and Enforcement, vigilance wing of the Mines and Geology Department and revenue officials are well aware of the irregularities committed by the granite quarry owners. But, they never attempted taking any action fearing ‘counter-action’ by the politically powerful people.
However, the state government recently issued orders to the Vigilance and Enforcement and Mines and Geology Department directing them to raid all the 238 granite quarries in Chimakurthy, Ballikurava and Santamaguluru and send a report to it.
According to highly placed sources in the Mines and Geology and Vigilance and Enforcement Department, a majority of the granite quarry owners have been evading taxes by undervaluing Black Galaxy Granite, which has great demand abroad, and illegally transporting it to other places without paying bills.
Most of the quarry owners, particularly with political background, are violating the norms laid down by the Mining Department, which include maintaining a gap of 15 meters between quarries, to minimise the threat to miners from loose rocks.
The mines safety wing authorities warned the quarry owners against violation of norms several times. But they did not heed the warnings.
Mines and Geology Department assistant director K Subramanyeswara Rao told Express that they would raid all the 238 quarries and then submit a detailed report to the government. The raids are being carried out according to the guidelines laid down by the government.