Inspection finds quarry bending rules

Pune, June 29: AN inspection of Dongargaon village, some 25 km from Pune, conducted by district mining officer D G Kalyankar in the presence of village representatives on Friday found the quarry dangerously close to settlements, water sources and farms.

The villagers had complained to the collector about the pollution caused by the stone quarry that was affecting their crops and poultry output.

Kalyankar measured the distance from the quarry to various landmarks and drew up a panchnama to be submitted to the collectorate. In the two-hour inspection, Kalyankar found the electricity pylon was at distance of 21 metres from the site, while the power line was a mere 43 metres away. According to the Bombay Minor Mineral Extraction Rules, 1955, there should be nothing within 200 yards (about 182 metres) of a quarry. “In Thane, no quarrying is permitted within 50 metres of any electricity pylon,” said Kalyankar.

In response to an RTI application sent by Dongargaon villagers, the Town Planning and Urban Development authority had given them the rules related to a stone quarry. The letter described Dongargaon’s land as ‘agricultural’ and mentioned safeguards before any quarrying activity was granted official permission.

Dongargaon resident Tukaram Gaikwad had sold nearly 5 acres of his land to Haveli MLA Vilas Vithoba Lande who purchased it in his brother Vishwanath Vithoba Lande’s name. “They offered Gaikwad Rs 6.5 lakh per acre. He needed the money and accepted the offer unaware that the land was to become a quarry,” said the villagers.

The Landes’ Sumit Stone and Crush Sand Company is jointly owned by four people. “The land was bought in March and they applied for permission to quarry in April and got it within a month. Usually the process takes around three months,” said Haribhau Gaikwad, one of the five village representatives, who had approached the Collector requesting him to stop the quarrying.

The Town Planning and Urban Development authority had said the quarrying should be at least 500 metres away from any human settlement. Gaikwad’s house and a well, is located about 200 metres from the site and the Dongargaon-Bolhai road is 30 metres from the house. A poultry farm is 140 metres from the quarry.

The rules also state that a quarry should be at least 500 metres away from rivers or streams. However, a nalla bund, which is a drinking and irrigation source, lies close to the quarry. “The explosions will cause silt to accumulate on the slopes obstructing the flow to fill the bund,” said villager Sachin Waghmare.

Two company partners present during the inspection said they had acquired the official permit from the collectorate. “We have a permit and an NOC from the gram panchayat as well. However, if the Collectorate orders us to shut the quarry, we will do so,” said partner Balasaheb Kand.

Inspection finds quarry bending rules