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Mangaluru: Nearly 30 deaths a year - stone quarries have become death traps in DK

Abhijith N Kolpe

Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru

Mangaluru Jul 10: Death of 13-year old Tameem due to drowning at a stone quarry in Adyar Padavu on July 9 only highlights the graveness of illegal quarries which mushroom in different parts of the district, and later turn as death-traps.

Abandoned mines and quarries claim lives of around 30 people a year. Many accidents have occurred in quarries, making it one of the dangerous places for people.
Many people assume quarries to be safe places to swim due to presence of still water. However, the steep drop-offs, deep water, sharp rocks, flooded equipment, submerged wire and industrial waste makes swimming risky here.

Another risk factor is the extreme cold water. Many quarry operations excavate to depths below the water table and use pumps to keep the mine dry while it is in operation. When mining stops, the pumps are turned off and the quarry floods by the inflow of cold groundwater. This groundwater inflow can keep the quarry water very cold even in late summer. Jumping or falling into cold water can be fatal - even for a young healthy person.

Most deaths that occur in abandoned mines and quarries are due to drowning. Most of the people who die in a quarry do not fall by accident. They go for a swim. The water can be dangerously cold and be around 250 to 300 ft deep. With no lifeguards, no rescue equipment, no fencing, no sign boards, a casual swim can turn fatal at any moment.

Quarry business is widely spread in the outskirts of Mangaluru in areas such as Merlapadav, Neermarga, Benjanapadavu, Valachil and Adyar Padav. Neermarga, Benjanapadavu, Merlapadav are famed for red stone quarries. While many quarries continue operations during season, few lie abandoned. Officials may not even be aware about them as they are located in interior areas. Hence, its need of the hour that Mines and Geology department verifies such quarries to curtail such issues.

In the year 2016, a migrant labourer from Bihar drowned in sheltered water of a stone quarry at Valachil. Kishore was working in the stone quarry for two years. After his work, Kishore along with his son went for a bath near the quarry. Unfortunately, Kishore slipped and drowned in the water which was 350 feet deep.

The stone quarry in which the labourer died was an illegal quarry and an FIR had been registered by Bantwal Rural Police against the owner of the quarry. However, to the shock of the localities, operations continued at the quarry the very next day of Kishore’s death, even though it was illegal.

After Kishore’s death, localities complained to Mines and Geology department and then Deputy Commissioner AB Ibrahim regarding the hazards these quarries pose to residents of the areas. However, they allege that the department inspects the spot and stops the work, which resumes again the very next day.

In 2017, a ten year old fell into a stone quarry in Bantwal and died.

Death of Tameem on July 9 can be attributed to the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned, who have failed to take action in spite of previous accidents.

As per the localities, several illegal stone quarries are functioning in different parts of the district. Loss of life, especially in the rainy season has become a common occurrence at the quarries, they lash out.

Since 2016, the localities have continuously voiced their protest over the illegal stone quarries functioning without any fear in the district. But it is unfortunate that so far there are no measures are taken to curtail activities of illegal quarries and avoid deaths. Officials show no concern regarding dangers and deaths that have taken place since 2016, due to illegal quarries, allege localities.

In order to avoid such instances, the concerned departments need to verify such quarries whether it is legal or illegal and need to restrain illegal activities. Meanwhile, they also need to ensure the quarries functioning with license have taken safety measures to avoid accidents in future.

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Comment on this article

  • SMR, Karkala

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    In my younger days there were small irrigation ponds everywhere. The people around lived happily with their own safety and paddy fields are green twice a years. There are few fatality and there are no water scarcity even in the summers.
    Today 'ponds' are gone and stone quarries came up. But people are blaming this water reservoirs which stores abundant amount fresh rain water for death trap.

    When Indians states are fighting for river water this quarries itself is God's gift if properly utilized. If the village committee is active they can plant thick bush to warn the residence and stray animals keep away. A small water tank can fetch the entire village for summers. If drip irrigation installed it can turn the fields green.
    We Indians are habitual good in blaming before thinking the consequences. If lives need to saved the in schools 'Swimming' should be made compulsory along with 'emergency response' and 'first aid courses'.
    What is the point of 'Yoga' if one can't save is life from 'drowning'? Will filling the stone quarries will resolve the water crisis?
    During Bijapur Sultan dry land turned in to lush green using simple water technology. Today all this ponds became dumping yard pushing the city in to water crisis.
    Do we plan for the future or wait for the disaster?
    Jai Hind

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  • MCF, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    For those who do not live in tree-houses, take a look around you and you may notice that your house, room, flat, apartment, may be / is constructed using stones / bricks. Today the quarries are getting larger and larger because the demand is increasing day by day from the real estate developers( who in turn have a stake in the govt.)

    In fact, I should like to know from the author the exact location of the quarry which he claims is 350ft deep. That is very very deep indeed. Even bore wells are supposed to get permission to go only upto 150 -200ft.

    Finally, not filling up any holes holding water makes a lot of sense, as this helps in rejuvenating the depleting water reservoirs in the earth. Turn your attention to the UN reports on water scarcity in India and the entire world, to the reports that India depends on ground water for 70-80% of her needs(i’d say 100%), to the fact that bad politicians are already itching their palms in anticipation of the (ill-gotten)profits to be made from the “water business industry”(factories to create fresh water from sea water, heard of it?), to the reports that India is using 300 % (although this is a mathematically wrong expression) more ground water than what is getting recharged into the ground by natural methods. Do you think that having no water to drink is a “death trap”? According to me the answer is YES.
    Please watch the 2008 documentary,” Blue Gold –World water wars” . The best documentary , made in India, which explains ground water recharge , is this one which can be found on you tube as “Aamir Khan's masterclass on how to Save Water” by Paani Foundation.

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  • Ruben Pinto, Mangalore/Australia

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    Allow quarries only on higher elevation and owner to provide drainage.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Richard, India

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    The one and only solution for our thick skinned society would be to catch hold of the owners of these death pits and push them in to these watery graves. Only such actions might create a bit of awareness and fear so that they and the respective authorities arrange to fence them or close them.

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  • MCF, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    All quarries and other excavations which pose a hazard to anybody should be fenced off. People should not break the fence and trespass into these fenced off areas.
    As pointed out by the reporter , considering that the deaths occur due to the stupidity of the persons involved it is not appropriate to call them “death –traps”. Please note that even small children are not stupid and they can inherently recognise a danger when they encounter one. This is because city-based “vidvans” (scholars) and bad politicians ,sitting in their AC chambers not having any knowledge of ground realities, will jump to conclusions and impose their preposterous thought processes on all and sundry using illogical govt. orders and misrepresentations through PIL’s etc.
    Example of a “death-trap” is this:
    When a person(adult or minor) falls into an invisible open drain while wading through 3 ft high dirty water on a flooded road in Mumbai . Then that open drain is termed a “death trap” because the person was unaware of it and he could not see or feel it and hence fell into it and died.

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  • Rathan, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    Why no co ments like deaths since 2014 ? Or first in 70/ 71 years ? Just becuse sickulars r ruling sinc2 013 ?the state govt is least bothered about taking action against land owners of such querry

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  • MCF, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    All increase in human population should be stopped immediately . There will be no more demand for building houses and flats and apartments and complexes and malls etc . The demand for stone and mud will diminish.There will be no more need for quarrying thus turning it redundant.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jenifer, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    What measure can bet taken ? Only option is, to barricade the mined pit. Filling the void is absolutely not an acceptable option because then they might fill it with hazardous materials thus causing further damage. However, since the deaths were not accidental falls but victims willingly walked into it, even barricading will not stop them because then they might trespass.

    Nevertheless, this mining business has filled the pocket of few while causing enormous loss to the environment. Greenery on the affected area is destroyed forever with a huge crater left open for water clogging and periodical deaths.

    But the most detrimental drawback is the land prices in the surrounding areas that shoot up as soon as the mining takes place at one location. The land owners expect same cost for land thus inhibiting a genuine buyer who wants to build a home and involve in minor cultivation around his house. Yes, many retired couples want to keep themselves occupied with something they were deprived of, because they were full-time working.

    Please do something to contain the land prices. Its been too expensive to own a land and to build a small house in it.

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  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    Dump stinking fish garbage in these abandoned stone quarries ...

    DisAgree [4] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sunil, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 10 2018

    You cannot fight wrong with another wrong thing.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

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