THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Vigilance team surveying the Mookunnimala hill has unearthed illegal quarrying within the buffer zone of the Army Firing Range and the Radar Station of the Southern Air Command. The survey team has also found that the quarry owners had got licence for blasting within the 100 metres buffer zone, which is said to be in violation of all norms and rules. It has been found that licences had been issued in violation of the directive that insisted on a no-objection certificate from the Army and the Air Force for any mining within about 1,000 metres of such installations.
The Army had on multiple occasions raised the issue before the State Government pointing out that illegal quarrying around Mookunnimala had resulted in landslides, endangering the lives of personnel, besides damaging sensitive military equipment.
Sources said that officials might have given licences for quarrying within the buffer zone knowingly or they might have been duped by the quarry owners. As the land in the hill was not properly demarcated, the quarry owners would have shown some other land and got licence, they said.
When contacted, Circle Inspector A Rabiyath, who is spearheading the investigation, said that the actual quantum of loss incurred could be assessed only after completing the survey. However, he said that they were able to come across large-scale violations in the area during the few days of the survey. The Vigilance had begun the Total Station Survey (TSS) for assessing the actual quantum of loss incurred due to illegal quarrying in the hill on July 18. The High Court had given three months’ time to complete the survey. It is estimated that the Vigilance has the task of surveying more than 300 acres in the next three months. A big challenge faced by the Vigilance is that there are no boundaries and the documents had been tampered with.
The Vigilance had already come out with a report that a majority of the quarries in Mookunnimala were functioning illegally. It had found that as many as 35 quarries, 15 crusher units and one M Sand unit were functioning in the hill without licence.