As the heavy rain and floods that killed more than a hundred people cleared in the state, the government today lifted the ban on mining activities in the state. As per the reports, the ban was lifted following the disaster management authority’s withdrawal of warnings of heavy rain in the state. However, lifting of the ban immediately after one among the worst in the series of natural disasters in the state has invited stringent criticism from environmentalists.
One among the major reasons that experts point out as the reason for recent natural calamities is the grave irregularities in allowing permits for mining in the state. It has been found that a total of 5924 stone quarries are functioning in the state whereas the Department of Mining and Geology had granted permission only to 750 stone quarries, the same contributes much to the repeating natural calamities. Kerala experienced 115 earthquakes between 1983 and 2015. Among them, 78 earthquakes occurred at places where stone quarries were functioning within 1 km area.
The quarries are built by removing the soil from the surface level. According to the study, this process affects the natural absorption of water into the soil and result in landslides. Earlier, Although legal, these quarries were allowed to run despite running the risk of landslides; 10 out of the 11 pockets which witnessed major landslides, and where 91 quarries operated, were classified as ecologically sensitive zones and asked to be banned from mining and quarrying by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, also known the Madhav Gadgil Committee in its report in 2011. However, without admitting the facts pointed out by Madhav Gadgil, the government constituted another committee, the high-level working group or the Kasturirangan committee to surpass the recommendations by the Gadgil committee. However the government authorities have a blind eye towards the reasons for the calamities, but in a vain attempt to ‘rebuild’ the state forcing the public and other agencies to contribute to it.
Over 500 people have been killed in natural disasters in Kerala within a span of a year. Exactly 12 months after Kerala witnessed its worst flood in a century in August 2018, where 433 people were killed, the state has been hit by another natural calamity that has claimed more than a hundred lives so far. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had blamed the extreme rainfall for last year’s devastation has admitted that most of the destruction this year was due to landslides. However, the lifting of the ban once again proves that the government is still helping the mining lobbies to continue exploiting nature.