The residents of Kurinji village in Ramapuram panchayat in Kerala stopped a private company from quarrying in the biodiversity rich Kottamala hills in on April 18. Police have declared 144 in the region prohibiting unlawful assembly of people.
Around 500 residents, including women and children, began protesting at Kottamala hills to stop quarrying activities. Twenty cops were present to maintain law and order.
Panchayat president, Shyni Santosh, ward member Jenus Nath and other panchayat members joined the residents in their protest. As the situation appeared to go out of control, the company representatives agreed to have talks with the panchayat members following which all their machineries were driven down from the hills and the workers vacated the place.
According to Fr Thomas Ayilakunnel, the vicar of the local church who is in the forefront of the agitation, one of the five companies had come with a court order to start quarrying few days back. "With the pretext of this order the company was planning to start quarrying in the Kottamala hills," he said. He also urged the government to conduct an inquiry into the five companies. “All these companies belong to the same family and they have formed separate companies to evade tax," he alleged.
"The district collector had earlier issued an order stopping all construction works in Kottamala. That order has not been challenged in any courts," added Ayilakunnel.
Panchayat president, Shyni Santhosh, said that the panchayat had issued a stop memo to the company.
Hundreds of people extending their support to the protesters from nearby villages also reached the spot. The protesters dispersed only after ensuring that all the machinery and vehicles were removed from the hills.
Meanwhile, residents alleged that the police tried to frame those who are in the forefront of the agitations. The issue began after the quarry started functioning at Kottamala hills in October last year.
Source: Times of India
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