Hyderabad: A day after the high court directed the departments concerned to stop quarrying operations at the Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lakes, nothing much has changed on the ground. There were as many as four active sites, primarily surrounding the Himayatsagar, where quarrying was going on under the supervision of private contractors on Thursday. At one site, near the banks of Himayatsagar, extensive quarrying activity was being carried out by a private contractor. At another place, also in the surrounding area of Himayatsagar, locals have taken over a crusher, as the commercial usage of the facility ceased about a year or so ago with the completion of the project it was started for.
Said Raju, a local labour present on the site, “We used to supply the material from here for a government project. But once that was done, we have been using it for local needs. With the completion of the project, we do not have the permission to conduct blasts in the area.” Agreeing with him, Kishtaiyya, an employee at the quarry and a local, said, “the owner comes in the morning everyday. But otherwise, locals and workers from around here use the crusher when they need the material. We do not do blasting anymore as there is quite a bit of stone available.” Notwithstanding their claims, it was, however, clear that it was indeed an ‘active’ site.
Till late afternoon, not a single official was seen in the vicinity. However, the one who did turn up, HMWS&SB General Manager (engineering), O&M division no XVII, Bhojagutta, D Sridhar Babu, had no idea about the high court orders. He was there to inspect the area for a proposal by the tourism department to develop a park.
There are as many as four active sites, primarily surrounding the Himayatsagar, where quarrying was going on.
“I am not aware of what the High Court order exactly dictates. Keeping a check on the quarrying activity doesn’t come under our purview. It’s the responsibility of the mining ministry. However, since the area is under our jurisdiction, it does concern us. We have ourselves been asking for the ban on quarrying and have been checking to see how stable the environment is. It will be a good thing if the ban is enforced,” he said.
While stone quarries are the main focus, there have been a few cases of sand mining too. But Babu dismisses them. “It is mostly the locals who collect the silt of the lake once in a while. Since this is not a flowing river, there isn’t actually any sand as such,” he explained.