Blanket ban on stone quarrying in Kerala as it reels under landslides

Rampant quarrying has been on along the Ponthenpuzha forest for years now.

Thiruvananthapuram: A blanket ban has been imposed on stone quarrying in Kerala after the state witnessed widespread floods and landslides. Government-approved quarries, which number 750, would stop functioning across the state as an indefinite ban comes into effect. Ecologist Madhav Gadgil had earlier warned that stone quarrying in the Western Ghats was causing landslide and mudslips.

While pointing out that quarrying at hilly regions was increasing the risk of landslides, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) had recommended to the government to bring in regulations even as the heavy rain continued to pound Kerala. The Kerala government had taken into consideration the SEIAA’s recommendation while bringing in the curbs.

"Red sandstone (or laterite stone) quarrying would also fall into the purview of the ban," Mining and Geology director K Biju told Manorama.

The massive landslides at Puthumala of Wayanad district and Kavalappara in Malappuram district in Kerala had wiped out 100 acres of land, and killed several last Thursday. The search for missing persons is frequently disrupted by the recurring landslides in the area.

Western Maharashtra mirrors Kerala

Last year as Kerala reeled under floods it was alleged that it was a 'man-made disaster'. The state government was blamed for ignoring warnings about heavy rains and likely floods. The dam authorities in Kerala were blamed for the worsening of floods last year as water was released carelessly and without timely alerts. This year the same issue could have vitiated the flood situation in Western Maharashtra.

Commenting on the floods in his own state, Maharashtra, Gadgil said on Tuesday that Kolhapur and Sangli districts in the western Maharashtra bore the brunt of devastating floods last week because there was a mismanagement of major reservoirs, PTI reported.

Gadgil, who was head of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, said the Maharashtra Water Resources Department failed to manage water storage in Koyna, Warana and Radhanagari dams.

"Hence Kolhapur and Sangli districts suffered," he told PTI.

A report by an amicus curiae who recommended a judicial probe into the disaster in Kerala last August had stated the flood situation was indeed aggravated by the mismanagement of dams in the state. The report stated that Kerala had no mechanism to record or analyse rainfall. The state government did not act on the warnings by the central agencies on expected rainfall. Reservoirs were opened without the mandatory precautions, it concluded.

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