When damages to Western Ghats said to be the main cause of the frequent landslips, the Kerala government is alleged to be moving ahead with allowing mining in assigned lands, which are mainly in the hilly tracts. The left government has mooted amendments in the Land Assignment Rules with the aim to allow mining of hills and rocks in assigned lands for facilitating agriculture in these lands.
It is learned that the revenue department, under the behest of political pressure, has forwarded amendment in the Kerala Land Assignment Rules, to the Chief Minister’s office and is awaiting the final signal, highly placed sources said.
The Left government had mooted the amendment when it came to power but the idea was shelved after much protest. Once again the government has started the process. With the government moving towards changing the Rules, it is in fact ignoring the views of the environmentalists and experts who blame excessive mining activities in the Western Ghats for the recent deluge.
It has been reported that about 30 quarries were functioning within a five km radius of Kavalapparam, which has seen one of the worst land slips that took about 50 lives till now. It is estimated that about 6000 quarries are functioning in Kerala and more than a half of them are said to be illegal. It has also been pointed that more than 50 per cent of the quarries are functioning in the Ghats.
The environmentalists fear that the government was only inviting disasters in the future by changing the Land Assignment Rules and allowing more mining.
The revenue department is known to have strong reservations against changing the rules, the sources said. But the decision to bring in the changes of allowing mining was taken at a high level meeting under the Chief Minister, they said. Though the revenue department, who are the custodians of all public lands in the state, have made their strong resentment, the law department is said to have given a favourable opinion.
It was the former Oomman Chandy government that had envisaged the amendment in 2015. But they could not go ahead with it as they faced much opposition. Again in 2018, the left government, who were instrumental in bringing in many land reforms, came up with such a decision. The government could not proceed with the amendment because of large scale protest. Once again they have silently moved the amendment now only with the aim of helping the quarries.