Thiruvananthapuram: It has been found that a total of 5924 stone quarries are functioning in the state whereas the Department of Mining and Geology had granted permission only to 750 stone quarries. The number of illegal quarries were found in a study conducted by Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI).
Most of these quarries are likely to cause mudslides and earthquakes. At present the Department of Mining and Geology ordered to stop all kinds of mining activities including quarrying and collection of soil and sand in the backdrop of the rain havoc.
The KFRI conducted the study on illegal quarries in 2015. The stone quarries occupy 7157 hectares of land in the state. There are 2438 quarries in Malabar, 1969 in central Kerala and 1517 in south Kerala.
Though some of the quarries are dysfunctional now, new quarries have already started. Among them, 19 quarries conduct mining in more than 20 hectares of land and 70 quarries in over 10 hectares.
Kerala experienced 115 earthquakes between 1983 and 2015. Among them, 78 earthquakes occurred at places where stone quarries were functioning within 1 km area.
The quarries are built by removing the soil from the surface level. According to the study, this process affects natural absorption of water into the soil and result in mudslide and earthquake.
As per primary reports, the major landslides in Wayanad and Nilambur were caused by soil piping i.e., underground water erosion. The reasons behind this effect was found out by the scientists of KFRI T. Sajeev and T. J. Alex.
Department of Mining and Geology has directed to stop mining to prevent disasters. Also the distribution of passes has been temporarily stopped. Once the rain recedes, the department has decided to grant permission again.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that more disasters will occur if quarrying continues during heavy rain, which is why the government has asked to stop such activities temporarily.