Hills in Konni are fast facing destruction as granite quarries reportedly flout court orders pertaining to environmental protection and land conversion. Western Ghats Protection council leaders Santhosh Kumar and Palleenazhikathu have alleged that there is a blatant violation of the mining rules as well as the Kerala Land Utilisation Act by quarry operators. This is being done in collusion with a section of the officials, in most granite quarries in the reaches of the Western Ghats.
The Supreme Court of India had made it clear that granite quarrying should be permitted only on the basis of the Environment Impact Assessment made in the area concerned. However, neither the authorities nor the quarry operators appear to have taken the order seriously, according to the official of WGPC. Quarrying is in progress day and night at Kalanjoor, Thavalappara, Oottupara, and Payyanamon in Konni.
It is common on the Oottupara-Kallely-Eliyarackal Road, to see trucks awaiting their turn to transport granite from the quarries from 3 a.m. onwards making a mockery of the court direction that quarrying should not be permitted during night. A survey showed that 54 quarries were functioning in Kalanjoor panchayat and a majority of them are situated in a 3-km radius, posing health hazards to the people.
The hills and rocks are regarded as water reservoirs as they log water. But the bulldozing of hills, coupled with rampant conversion of paddy fields and wetlands, have contributed to the depletion of groundwater table in a big way. As a result the groundwater level has gone down significantly. At Thudiyurulippara the Survey Department has identified large-scale encroachment on government land and indiscriminate rock quarrying by a private granite quarry operator at Thudiyurulippara in Konni taluk. The survey was carried out with the help of GPS Total Station.
The survey report says that the quarry operators have quarried granite to a depth of up to 30 m, instead of the permitted depth of 10 metres. An RTI reply has revealed that the quarry operators have not even applied for the mandatory environment clearance at Thudiyurulippara.
The concern of the WGPC leaders is genuine as this kind of blatant violation of mining rules as well as the directions of the Supreme Court is detrimental to the environment and it has to be checked stringently.