Quarry Owners protest in front of DC office3 min read
Manipal: The Quarry Owners Association joining hands with the District Civil Contractors’ Association took out a procession of as many as 3000 workers and 70 trucks from Karavalli Junction (near Kaup) to the District Commissioner’s Office at End Point Road on October 12 protesting against government’s decision to build safe zones for the gravel (jelly) crushers.
The Supreme Court of India had issued orders last month asking the Gravel (Jelly) crushing units to be transferred to a particular safe zone pointed out by the State Government in every district. Dreading contempt of court, State Pollution Control Board directed the closure of over 200 crusher units around Dakshina Kannada district. The protestors demanded to render them with a solution pertaining to problems of labourers due to non- supply of gravel.
Manoj Shetty, President of the Jelly Crusher Association said, “We are submitting a plea to the Chief Minister through the District Commissioners of the Dakshina Kannada District. In the memorandum submitted, we have urged the state government to remove the ban. If one considers the Dakshina Kannada district, there is no land available in the district that could meet all the guidelines laid by the government. Also, the safe zones chosen by the central government are in dearth of resources.”
This shut down has taken not just quarry owners but also contractors for a toll and led to denial of work for bread for thousands of workers, paralysing constructions across the region.
Harsha Shetty, Owner of a Gravel (Jelly) Crusher Unit in Halekatte (Karkala Taluk) said, “This is a difficult phase for us. There are as many as 50 labourers under me who need to be provided with proper salary and accommodation. We have taken over drafts (loans) from the bank which we need to pay through instalments. What shall we do if the government becomes adamant to shut down our businesses? All gravel crushers in the region have had individual losses of more than ten lakhs per month, including me who has rendered a loss of eight lakhs in the past one month.” He added, “Also if you notice, the infrastructure development projects by the state government have been stunted because of almost no supply of raw materials.”
Girish, a quarry worker from S K Industries Kundapur said, “It seems as if we have been on a holiday for the past two weeks. We have been receiving no salary from the past one month making it difficult to survive. Furthermore, many workers have migrated to other jobs in expectation of a decent salary. The most affected in this situation are our contractors, making it difficult for them to maintain us without any income.”
The protest was called off after the Presidents of respective Associations submitted a Memorandum to the District Commissioner Dr. M.T. Reju. Dr. Reju was unavailable to comment on the issue. The Memorandum subtends till Tuesday where a comment maybe expected from the State Government.
Raghupati Bhatt, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Udupi District; Lalaji Mendon, MLA, Kaup; K C Kamath, Vice President, Quarry Owners Association along with representatives of Builders Association and Hallow Blocks Association were also present during the protest.
Sub-edited by Toshia Kader