The Mining and Geology Department’s finding that quarrying was not the reason for the recent series of landslips in around 29 locations in Kodiyathur and Karassery panchayats in the district has come as a big surprise to environmental activists as well as residents in the region.
A report containing the finding, prepared by a geologist, was submitted to the Human Rights Commission recently as part of an inquiry. It puts the whole blame on the unscientific levelling of hillocks for agriculture and house construction activities in the area, which has been pooh-poohed by the local community.
“The geologist’s report is quite a puzzling one as it blatantly dismisses a number of previous reports by experts that uncontrolled quarrying in these two panchayats had led to multiple incidents of landslips in August. The Kodiyathur Village Officer had even come out with a report stating that quarrying was the main reason for the calamities in the region,” said K. Balakrishnan, an environmental activist who approached the Human Rights Commission on August 28 with a demand to probe the unscientific quarrying in the area and address the grievances of local residents.
Mr. Balakrishnan, who is also an executive committee member of the Paristhithi Samrakshana Samiti, pointed out that the geologist’s report was actually covering up the whole illegal activities taking place in the area. “We have ample proof, including video footage and images, to prove our argument and it will be submitted to the consideration of the panel during its next sitting in Kozhikode on November 21,” he added.
Leaders of the Paristhithi Samarakshana Samiti alleged it was the lackadaisical approach on the part of the Department of Mining and Geology that actually encouraged quarry operators to flourish in the business and exploit the resources in environmentally sensitive areas. No proactive step was taken even after the submission of frequent petitions by various local action committees and studies by experts citing the danger of quarrying in sensitive areas, they claimed.
G. Ajith Kumar, coordinator of the Mukkom unit of Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti, said the geologist’s report was an insult to all those who scientifically studied the issue after visiting the affected regions.
“Even a team of officers from the Geological Survey of India had made clear observations that landslips occurred in the area because of uncontrolled quarrying. The motive behind the geologist’s report should be probed in detail and we will approach the rights panel for a favourable intervention,” he said.