Year after tragedy, Goa govt pledges to seal open cast stone quarries
One year after four students drowned in an open stone quarry pit, the Goa government has pledged before the National Green Tribunal that it will ensure that the quarries are filled up with fly ash and remediated inert waste to prevent a recurrence.
The decision comes after a meeting of a special committee set up by the National Green Tribunal, tasked with finding a solution to the recurring problem of open stone quarries posing a threat to wandering children as well as wildlife which get trapped.
“There are induction furnace units as well as sponge iron units in the State of Goa which generates slag and fly ash. It is proposed to utilize the slag, fly ash, inert, compost and tree and garden cuttings for restoration of the quarries to its original state. The last one meter will comprise of soil/compost followed by plantation through Goa State Biodiversity Board or Forest Department,” the Goa government said in its submissions before the NGT.
The Goa government is hoping to solve two problems at once as state and local bodies also face issues in trying to dispose of remediated as well as organic waste and fly ash from factories.
An earlier proposal by the Goa government to fill the pits with municipal solid waste earned the ire of the National Green Tribunal.
“A preposterous suggestion has been made for filling up the mined out pits with solid waste in consultation with a Norwegian company. We therefore,have no hesitation in rejecting the report as unacceptable. If the proposal is to be accepted, it would amount to giving license for commission of a criminal offence apart from it being in violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” the NGT had noted.
“The report clearly demonstrates insensitivity on the part of the State of Goa in dealing with such a serious question where lives have reportedly been lost,” the NGT further observed.
On September 18 last year, four students went for a swim in the quarry that was filled with rainwater and drowned. The four were part of a group of 40 boarders from a hostel who were taken for a trek at Tuem village in North Goa.
Laterite quarries used to cut out stone used to build houses are large pits that are filled with water during the rains and end up being traps not just unsuspecting humans but also animals who fall into the pits.
Even before the deaths, the NGT had asked the Goa government “to take further remedial actions including framing of appropriate guidelines and manual of Standard Operating Procedure for the quarries.”