After receiving complaints of pollution, violations of norms and health-related issues, the Thane district mining department has launched a drive against quarries in the district.
The drive, which began on November 23, will cover around 250 quarries in the region by December 26.
Mining department officials said that of the 15 quarries inspected in Vasai, Bhiwandi, and Thane areas, eight were found to be violating norms. These quarries will be issued notices.
After Navi Mumbai-based NGO Save Mangroves and Navi Mumbai Existence (SAMNE), headed by Sukumar Killedar, filed a complaint, the Konkan divisional commissioner, SS Sandhu, had asked the Thane Collector to take action against polluting quarries in September.
The campaign gained momentum after Govind Gunjalkar, a member of the district planning committee, raised the issue during a meeting last month.
Prashant Kore, Thane mining officer, said, “We are inspecting all quarries in the district for their blasting licences, pollution board permissions, permission for stone crushers and safety norms. Action against defaulters can include cancelling their licences.”
According to officials, they have found several violations in the quarries. For instance, the size of the blasted pits at the quarries should not be more than 6x6m. However, most quarry owners do not follow the norm. Also, the slopes of the pits should be at a 60° angle, but they are at 70° to 80°, officials claimed. Sources said several workers had been involved in accidents while working in the quarries.
Bahadur Bisht, a Shiv Sena corporator of Airoli, said, “The norms concerning controlled blasting are being ignored. There have been several instances in Iltanpada and Vishnunagar when stones from quarries have fallen on houses. Also, the stone crushers are causing a lot of air pollution.”
According to Killedar, excessive mining and deforestation were affecting the environment. “Soon there will be no mountains left in the region. Also, the health of residents living close to the quarries is at a great risk. The quarries need to be shut down at the earliest.”