Environmental organisations in Wayanad have slammed the government for ‘failing’ to take action against the State-Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for issuing environmental clearance to granite quarries in ecologically fragile areas without conducting any impact assessment studies.
Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samithy president N. Badusha told The Hindu that the government had made the authority a marionette and processes were under way to issue permits to more than 40 granite quarries even in ecological hotspots in Wayanad. It feared that such a move would lead to the total destruction of the hill district, Mr. Badusha said.
Recently, the National Green Tribunal had directed the State government to dismiss the SEIAA and reconstituted the body for issuing environment clearance to a multi-crore real estate project in Kozhikode district by flouting all norms.
The tribunal had declared invalid the environmental clearance granted by SEIAA to a ₹350-crore worth project - the Landmark Trade Centre project of Calicut Landmark Builders and Developers India Pvt. Ltd. - on an 85,000 sq. km land at Pantheeramkavu village in Kozhikode district, Mr. Badusha said.
The government should initiate legal actions against the panel members who had been involved in the alleged scam, he said.
The SEIAA had set up a website for transparency of its functioning and to inform the public on the developments and proceedings of each project, but they had uploaded the details of the projects only after granting final permission. However, the functioning of the website was stopped abruptly after the new chairman assumed office, Mr. Badusha said, adding that the SEIAA did not upload any projects after December 2020.
The authority gave permission to a quarry at Valaramkunnu recently, which had been closed by the Wayanad District Collector after it was found that the quarry was functioning on a red zone area marked by the CESS.
The authority issued permission to another one at Kadachikunnu, even though it was also functioning in a red zone, he added. The residents at Moonnanakuzhy in Meenangadi grama panchayat agitated after the authority had given permission for a quarry in the area without visiting the site or conducting a public hearing, Mr. Badusha added.
The residents had brought the issue to the attention of the Chief Minister and planned to approach the Green Tribunal against the move, he added. A comprehensive enquiry into the illegal move of the authority across the State was the need of the hour and the culprits should be punished, Mr. Badusha said.