With the left government going for amending the Kerala Land Assignment rules to allow indiscriminate license for quarrying in assigned lands, the environmentalists are up in arms against the decision, stating that it would be a doomsday for the Western Ghats and the whole of Kerala.
Once quarrying is allowed in these assigned lands it would be a death knell for the land reforms that had protected the public lands in the state. The environmentalists believe that the Left Government, which was instrumental in bringing in the land reforms and many other land Acts, was only playing at the hands of the quarry and land mafia. “They are trying to scuttle all the land reforms that have taken place in the state,” they said.
Talking to www.indianf.com, environmentalist C R Neelakanatan said “once the government brings in the amendment to allow quarrying in assigned lands, it would be a big blow to the land reforms. It would scuttle all our rules.”
The Left government has given the final signal for changing the Kerala land Assignment Rules, 1964, for allowing quarrying in assigned lands.
GOVERNMENT CONNIVING WITH QUARRY MAFIA
Stating that the government was playing into the hands of the land and quarry mafia, he cautioned that the amendment would be a death knell for Western Ghats. Noting that several quarries were now functioning illegally in the Western Ghats and in assigned lands, Neelakantan said that the amendment was in a way legalising all these illegal activities. “Lots of cases against the quarry mafia are now in the courts. Once the amendment comes, then the quarries can get all their activities legalised.”
He also alleged that the Revenue Department had no role or any significance as all the major decisions and issues are being taken at the office of the Chief Minister. “It is a known fact that the earlier revenue secretary had been surpassing the revenue minister and had affiliation to the Chief Minister,” he said.
Neelakantan also alleged that two MLAs of the ruling party were leaders of the quarry associations. “They are inserting pressure on the government and a lot of money is involved in this. All they want is to erase Western Ghats from the map,” he said. The government would have to face strong agitation if it goes ahead with the amendment.
MINUS WESTERN GHATS; NO KERALA
Stating that amending Kerala Land Assignment Rules was only for legalising the illegal quarries now functioning in the state, environmentalist S P Ravi of Chalakudy said that it was a serious issue that needs to be challenged.
“Already the government had relaxed the rules for mining earlier. And yet again amending the assignment rules would only be detrimental to the Western Ghats,” he said and added that a study has shown that about 5000 quarries (most of them illegal) were operating in the Ghats. “The question now is if we can afford to bring destruction to the Western Ghats. With respect to Kerala, environment protection is just not needed now but we have to go for environment building. The government is coming up with such destructive policies when the state is in need of rebuilding the ecology and nature. Once this is not done, Kerala cannot withstand,” he said.
“Minus Western Ghats, there is no Kerala,” he said and asked why so many quarries are needed. “Is it for levelling the sea at Vizhinjam or for constructing four or six lane? Is this development that the government is thinking of? Actual development indicator does not have Human index in it. So the scuttling all the land laws would only bring negative impact,” he said.
Ravi also said that it should be seen if this could be legally and politically challenged.
Meanwhile Wildlife expert and how has been involved in the protection of Western Ghats Vinayan said that all these would only add to the destruction of the Western Ghats. “Whatever change is brought to the environment in Western Ghats, it can have an overall impact on our climate and environment,” he said.
“If the assigned lands are given for mining activities, all these could only spell danger to the Ghats. The plants and trees even in private land adjacent to the Ghats is an added advantage. In case quarrying is allowed in these lands, all these could only adversely affect us,” he opined.