Saturday, Oct 04, 2003
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Murali Venkatraman, vice president, in a release, said the chamber welcomed the move, which would enable citizens to have the benefit which nature intended to provide. He said the chamber believed that alternative methods of using quarry dust and fly ash for construction activity should be explored. ``...We do hope that the PWD will organise itself suitably to meet the needs of construction and building industry.''
Hailing the official decision as a ``bold and appreciable move'', the Pasumai Thayagam, president, R. Anbumani, said the Government take over of sand quarries, in deference to long-standing demand from community organisations, would benefit everyone. Natural resources like river systems would be saved, government earn revenue and sand would be available at reasonable price.
Dr. Anbumani wanted the Government to set up a special police force to stop illegal quarrying to ensure that no irregularities occurred in the new system. Local monitoring groups comprising representatives of community organisations, villagers and panchayat members should be formed to stop illegal quarrying. The management of local quarries should be handed over to the elected panchayats.
He also called for a Statewide study for assessing the environmental damage caused by unregulated and illegal quarrying operations. Those who were involved in the illegal operations should be made to pay for this. ``The decision regarding sand quarrying would have long term beneficial impact for the State as the earlier decisions such as the ban on lotteries and compulsory rainwater harvesting systems,'' Dr. Anbumani said.
Making a similar demand for handing over of sand quarries to elected panchayats, the Campaign for Protection of Water Resources - Tamil Nadu, said the decision to annul all existing leases, was a step forward which recognised people movements' and NGOs' demands to totally ban quarrying to protect the environment, water bodies and people's livelihood.
In a joint statement, the convener, L. Antonysamy, and the co-conveners, M. Jeeva, and Gilbert Rodrigo, said the Government should have vested the administration of minor minerals (including sand) with local governments, instead of the PWD. The campaign also voiced the demand to make those responsible for causing damage, pay for restoration work.
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