The environmental activists in the district have voiced protest at the alleged apathy of the district administration and police in taking action against illegal quarries operating in Veliyam and Kareepra panchayats in the district.
Nature activists based in the district have come out against rampant illegal quarrying in the region. Based on information accessed through RTI Act, the Revenue officials had identified about 25 illegal stone quarries in Veliyam panchayat and about four illegal ones at Kareepra panchayat since 2011.
In reply to query under the RTI Act, the respective village offices had said that they had handed over the details of these quarries and their owners to the police for taking action almost one-and-a-half years ago.
A recommendation was also made to recover the revenue loss incurred by the government due to illegal mining. Despite this, action against the quarry owners was still pending.
Paristhithi Manushyavakasa Samrakshana Samiti president V K Santhosh Kumar told ‘Express’ that there are about 300 quarries, small and large, operating in the region. ‘’While the RTI reply names just 29 of them, the numbers will be even higher.According to Pollution Control Board (PCB) there are just 30 licensed quarries in the area. Even these quarries have been mining beyond permissible depths. While the PCB regulates mining beyond a depth of five metres, mining goes unregulated in these quarries to a depth of over 30 metres,’’ he said.
The regions surrounding the quarries are facing acute water shortage. Besides posing a threat to the eco system the illegal quarries have caused heavy loss to the state exchequer.
Previous attempts to recover fines from illegal quarries were not successful. Paristhithi Samrakshana Ekopana Samithi chairman T K Vinodan and S Babuji said that the district administration had shown reluctance to convene the meeting of monitoring committee, which was formed to monitor environmental issues.
Instead, they are interested in holding talks with the quarry owners, they alleged.