‘Closure resulted in loss of livelihood for lakhs of workers’
Tamil Nadu Granite Quarry Factory and Related Labour Welfare Association, a recently formed Madurai-based association, petitioned Madurai Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao on Monday appealing to initiate steps to open the non-functional granite quarries in the district and also across the State.
Speaking to the media, A. Porkai Pandian, State president of the association, claimed that more than a thousand granite quarries across Tamil Nadu were closed following the 2015 amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, which mandated clearance from the newly introduced District-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA).
“They mandated it even for those granite quarries that were approved and operational even before 2015,” he said.
A district-level official from the Tamil Nadu’s Department of Geology and Mining said that, until the amendment, approval from a committee formed by Collector was adequate for granite quarries since granite came under the classification of minor minerals.
- Gopalakrishnan, State secretary of the association, said that while almost all the granite quarries in Madurai district were closed down in 2012 following the illegal quarrying scam, the 2015 amendment led to the closure of granite quarries in other districts as well.
“Consequently, many of the polishing factories were also shut down. This has resulted in loss of livelihood for lakhs of workers, who were employed in quarries, factories and in the construction work,” he said.
Mr. Porkai Pandian said that the cost of granite slabs used in construction has also shot up considerably in the last couple of years since they had to be brought from other States.
“Our neighbouring States like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have managed to provide exemption to the granite quarries that were functioning before 2015 citing loss of revenue to the State and livelihood of workers. Tamil Nadu, however, failed to do that,” he alleged.
Pointing out that only around 80 of the nearly 150 granite quarries in Madurai district were under litigation, he said that the district administration must try to reopen the remaining quarries with adherence to due process.
He also appealed to the State government to initiate steps at the earliest to reopen the granite quarries that were closed after 2015.
Source: THE HINDU