Kochi: A scientist is facing the wrath of a section of granite quarry operators in the state for his expose of the quarries in ecologically-sensitive areas. Their target is Dr. T.V. Sajeev, principal scientist of forest entomology at the Kerala Forest Research Institute, who wants strict standards and protocols for operating the quarries. Dr. Sajeev along with C.J. Alex had presented a paper at a seminar titled 'Mapping of granite quarries in Kerala, India; a critical mapping initiative' in 2017. The data presented in the paper was superimposed on some of the regions worst-affected by landslides and floods in August.
The state committee of Small-Scale Granite Quarry Association said Dr. Sajeev was spreading baseless charges against the quarries. It has also called for a protest march to KFRI on Tuesday.
It said the Google Map data used by Dr. Sajeev does not have any connection with the ground reality of quarrying.
Reports quoting the data from Dr. Sajeev stated that in Kavalappara near Nilambur, one of the worst-hit by the landslide, 27 quarries are operating in a five-km radius of the affected area. "This is completely wrong," said M.K. Babu, secretary of the association. The same is the case with Meppadi in Wayanad.
Dr. Sajeev said the mapping was done using open access satellite data during 2014-2015 from WebGIS sources like Google Earth, Google Map and Bing Map. The study focused on distribution and proximity of quarries in major river basins, earthquake and landslide- prone areas and protected forests and reserve forests.
The information thus gathered in 2017 was super-imposed on areas hit by landslides in August to have an idea of the destructive potential of the quarrying, he said.
According to Dr. Sajeev, the information had helped in creating a new awareness about strict standards and protocols for operating the quarries, especially in ecologically vulnerable areas.
He also said the government should takeover quarries and bring them under its control.
The Vypeen liquor tragedy in 1982 was the trigger for the government to take over the wholesale liquor business. The same principle could be used in the case of quarries to bring an order in the sector as well as increasing the earnings of the government, he said.