Roadblocks greet MP Sumalatha at quarries
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Roadblocks greet MP Sumalatha at quarries

July 8, 2021
  • Mounds of debris dumped on roads to prevent inspection
  • Irked MP demands CBI probe into illegal stone mining around KRS

Srirangapatna: Political bitterness in Karnataka’s Sugar Bowl spilled over as roadblocks, mounds of debris and trenches on the way to stone quarries greeted Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambarish yesterday afternoon when she visited certain quarries operating within 20 kilometre radius of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam. 

Shocked by the development, the Mandya MP questioned the JD(S) Legislators as to why she is being prevented from visiting quarries. The MP had announced that she will visit certain quarries in her Constituency to check reports of illegal mining. However, before Sumalatha could arrive at the quarries, debris was dumped on the road so that vehicles could not pass from one side to another. 

 At some places, boulders were placed on the road and trenches were dug. This forced the MP to inspect the quarries by foot. Here too she was unable to do so as the debris was obstructing her way, she was assisted by her supporters to at least have a view of the quarries. It was continuously raining and still the MP went on inspecting mines that were open and finally wrapped up her visit at 9 pm. 

 The visit, however, irked certain JD(S) party workers who gheraoed her car and convoy and shouted slogans against her for targeting their leaders and thousands of workers who depend on quarries for their livelihood.

Hand-in-glove?

During her visit to areas including Chennannakere in Srirangapatna taluk and Hangarahalli, Sumalatha questioned the officers of Mines and Geology Department as to who owned the mines. As the officers fumbled for answers and feigned ignorance, Sumalatha charged at them for deliberately hiding the names of the owners. 

“This will not even happen on the India-Pakistan border. Whom do you fear? You are Government Officers and here you are protecting vested interests. Don’t you know that per day over 500 trucks leave from Hangarahalli with stones? There are tyre marks on the road. Why are you ignorant? How much fine have you levied?” she asked. 

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Taken aback by a series of questions, the officers again were short of words. This angered Sumalatha further and questioned the officers, “Are you hand-in-glove with the mine owners? Who put mud and debris on my path? Here the Deputy Commissioner too is accompanying me,” she asked. 

 Big fish let off

Certain mini-quarry owners approached Sumalatha and said that Mines and Geology Officers and Forest Department were not permitting small and licenced quarry owners to operate and were not taking any action against big and influential illegal quarry owners.

“The officers are bending down before the influential and affluent miners. They seize our vehicles and keep them for more than six months while no action is taken against illegal quarrying. They are continuing mining despite the expiry of their lease period,”  they alleged. 

Later speaking to reporters, Sumalatha said that she will press for a CBI probe into illegal mining and would bring the issue to the notice of the Chief Minister and Prime Minister.

“It is not just a State issue now and it has become a national issue where natural wealth is plundered by politician-backed quarries. I will not leave this to go in vain and I will take it up at the highest level including Parliament and the Prime Minister to stop illegal mining around KRS,” she said.

Why was Rs. 76 crore spent during coalition rule? 

Whenever I raise the mining issue and the subsequent threat to KRS Dam, several JD(S) MLAs of Mandya district and a former CM threaten me. Are they MLAs or terrorists? The former CM has been threatening that he has a CD missile. Is this how an elected representative behaves? Why do they fear when I speak about illegal quarrying,” Sumalatha Ambarish asked in her apparent reference to former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy and Mandya JD(S) Legislators.

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When D.K. Shivakumar was Minister for Water Resources in the Coalition Government, the KRS Dam was repaired at a cost of Rs. 76 crore. Tell me why such an amount was spent? It is because there were cracks and they were sealed. It’s quite obvious. Let there be a probe,” she added.

My visit to the quarry sites did not happen suddenly. I had informed the officials about it last week. I am the MP of Mandya. I can go to the quarry sites or KRS Dam. Why do you fear?” she asked.

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