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Kerala floods: Experts point to role of quarries in landslide

‘Mining by 33 quarries in 10-km radius altered Kavalappara landscape’

Published: 14th August 2019 05:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2019 05:20 AM   |  A+A-

The landslide-hit area at Kavalappara

Express News Service

MALAPPURAM:  At a time when authorities claim the unprecedented rainfall is the only reason for the landslide in Kavalappara, scientists and environmentalists say the unscientific excavations in more than 30 quarries in the area have also played a major role in making the Muthappan Kunnu vulnerable to landslides.

ALSO READ: Kerala floods toll climbs to 88, state limps back to normalcy

T V Sajeev, head of the Forest Health Division at the Kerala Forest Research Institute, says they have identified 12 quarries within the five-kilometre radius of Kavalappara and 21 quarries in the 10-kilometre radius. “We have taken satellite pictures to find out the number of quarries in the area. Operations of these quarries have changed the landscape of the area. It made the hill unstable, but the heavy rain triggered the landslide. The disaster would have happened last year if there was a similar amount of rainfall like this year. The apathy of the authorities in protecting the Western Ghats as per the reports has also led to the disaster,” he said. 

The authorities should have conduced an environmental impact study before giving permit to quarries in the state. “Mining should be conducted for construction activities, but the authorities should ensure that it does not affect the environment. A study should be conducted to assess the extend of mining that could be allowed in an area. Permit should only be given after the detailed study,” Sajeev said. 

Environmentalist Azad from Malappuram said the authorities should learn lessons from the disasters. 
“The government did not learn a lesson from last year’s flood. Now, the once-in-a-century phenomenon happened twice within a span of a year. The government should stop the mining mafia from exploiting the environmentally sensitive areas,” he said. 

To give confidence to the grieving state residents, the government should acknowledge that many decisions taken by them in environmental protection, including the decision to bring down the minimum distance from the boundary of a quarry to residential buildings to 50 metres from 100 metres and ignore the suggestions in the Gadgil report were wrong, he said. “It should assure people that they will correct the wrong moves and conduct a research to avoid more disasters in the future. Such an announcement from the government will give some hope for the people in Kerala.” 

12 quarries within the 5-km radius of Kavalappara
21 quarries in the 10-km radius
According to T V Sajeev, head of the Forest Health Division at the Kerala Forest Research Institute, the change in landscape of the area made the hill unstable, but heavy rain triggered landslide.



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