Thiruvananthapuram: Amid concerns over the role of quarrying in causing landslides and ecological devastation, the Kerala government has decided to open 31 more quarries. The Mining and Geology Department has approved 31 applications in three districts, making light of the mining regulations of 2015. The Revenue Department has been reportedly kept in the dark over this move and no assessment has been carried out on its possible environmental impact and effects on underground water.
An RTI reply from the Mining and Geology Department reveals that 18 new quarries will be opened in Thiruvananthapuram district alone and these include two permits granted in the name of the CEO of Adani Ports which is behind the under-construction Vizhinjam Port.
Seven new mines will come up in Kollam and 6 in Pathanamthitta district, the RTI reply revealed.
Adani Ports had applied for four quarries in Pathanamthitta.
Mining can start at these new quarries once other departments give go-ahead. Officials were reportedly advised by the higher-ups to avoid any delay in such applications.
The latest move could be because some high-ranking officers in the government are in cahoots with quarry owners who promote their interests by claiming the construction sector in the state is stagnating over curbs on mining natural resources, including rocks.
It is suspected even sons of top politicians are involved in benami deals in the mining sector.
While the state government reasons the rocks from the new quarries will be used for the Vizhinjam Port project, Adani Group does not buy them from any quarries in Kerala. It is alleged the company mines rocks by itself elsewhere for a paltry sum.
Adani Ports has been granted a quarry in Perumkadavila already and the nod for this is likely not above board. This facility is the same as the Gem Granites which was shut down earlier. Its permit was valid until January 2017, but now mining continues here without renewing it.
The government has not set a limit on output from this quarry, where a tonne of rock is sold for a meagre Rs 26.
As per Geology Department’s 2015 survey, 1,385 quarries are operational in the state. However, illegal quarries do exist and their count is at least thrice more than the number of licensed ones.