Even as the environmentalists and social activists have been crying hoarse, the Tamil Nadu government is moving ahead with the opening of six sand quarries in the districts of Myladuthurai and Thanjavur.
The sand quarries will be opened on March 5, after the election to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor posts in corporations on March 4.
The online registration for availing of sand from the new quarries will commence from 8 a.m. on March 5, an official with the state water department told IANS.
After the state government had issued orders on January 6 for the opening of 16 sand quarries with lorries as a mode of transport and 21 bullock cart quarries, the environmental groups in the state had come out against it. The remaining lorry quarries and bullock cart quarries will be opened before the end of the current financial year. These will be opened in Vellore, Karur, and Tiruvallur districts, but the work of the quarry in Kancheepuram district has been put on hold due to environmental-related issues.
Raghunathan Meyyappan, Director, Institute for environment and climate studies, an NGO based out of Myladuthurai while speaking to IANS said, “Sand quarries will create major environmental problems and I appeal to the government to stop commencing work to open the quarries at Myladuthurai and Thanjavur districts. With the sand being mined out from the water bed, the river will slowly die its natural death and this cannot be allowed. We will conduct strong protests against the government’s move.”
It may be noted that after the government issued orders on January 6, the model code of conduct for the urban local body polls came into being, and hence the opening of quarries was postponed.
The water department officials said that the preparations to open the quarries are in full swing and at present, three quarries at Thanajur and three in Myladuthurai will be opened on March 5.
An official with the waterworks department while speaking to IANS said, “We have prepared the river beds for the JCB poclains to take sand and six yards of storehouse has been built in these areas.” He also said that CCTV cameras will be installed in the place for the prevention of loss of material.
The official also rubbished the claims of the environmental groups against the opening of the river sand quarries and said that all the stakeholders were called for discussion before the state government issued orders.