After a few days of respite, quarrying has gained momentum in Kerala with the quarry owners blasting the Western Ghats and other hills in connivance with the officials. Moreover, the quarry mafia also have allegedly started smear campaigns against those who oppose illegal quarrying.
In a recent episode, the small scale quarry owners had come out against the scientist of Kerala Forest Research Institute, who had come out with data regarding illegal quarry activities and the need to ban all quarry activities in the hills.
Highly placed sources said that the small scale quarries, which have no license and permits, allegedly have the blessings of the ruling party. Some of the small scale quarry associations are headed by CPM leaders, who have called for allowing mining activities.
It is known that about 6000 quarries are functioning in Kerala and half of them are functioning illegally. Moreover, 50 per cent of the mining is in Western Ghats, which according to environmentalists is undergoing the worst disaster.
The sources said that all the illegal quarries could be stopped if the revenue, mining and geology , panchayat and police force come together. However, they say that the officials and even the government lack the will to rope in the mining mafia. They alleged that politicians, both state level and local leaders, and a few of the officials offer all their support to quarry mafia. .
When the environmentalists call for stopping all illegal activities in the Western Ghats and other regions and want an ecological study on the impact of mining, the quarry owners are going ahead with their alleged illegal activities. The sources said that there is much pressure on the government for allowing more quarries and to revoke any stoppage of the activities. They say that it was quite evident from lifting the ban on quarry activities soon after the monsoon fury slowed down. The government had banned quarry activities during the monsoon after the incidents of landslides in Kavalapara and Puthumala that killed more than 100 people. Even at the time of lifting the ban, the government was accused of helping the quarry mafia rather than protecting the environment. Noting that revoking the ban was itself a big challenge on the public, the environmentalists had then called for a comprehensive study of all the quarries.