State govt crackdown on illegal stone crushers

Berhampur: Following the killing of eight people at a stone crusher, Ganjam distinct administration has launched a crackdown on illegally run crusher units.

The administration has asked the tahasildars and the regional office of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to jointly verify the operating crusher units and prepare a list of illegal ones within a month, official sources said.

The action to close down the crusher units was taken after eight persons including?three partners of a stone crusher unit were burnt to death near Badagada village under Sheragada block by the villagers on April 29.

The unit was found to be operating illegally near their village and people were strongly opposing to it.

The Orissa High Court had ordered the state government to close the crusher units that violated the norms for establishment and pollution control measures.

"We have already closed at least five units in Berhampur sub-division," said an official of the SPCB.

Verification of stone crushers in other two sub-divisions – Bhanjanagar and Chhatrapur – would be held very soon, the sources said.

The district administration had asked to expedite the verification of the units after the April 29 incident in which a 200-strong mob brunt alive the crusher unit owners and employees at Badagada village, sources said.

Rift between locals and the crusher unit owners had surfaced since the unit was set up about two months ago over blasting in the area.

Sources said while 150 applicants sought to register for stone crusher units in the district, around 50 percent of them were in operating position.

The units which have violated the pollution norms and establishment criteria would be known only after verification, the sources added.

Besides sprinkling of water in the surrounding of the crusher units, they have to create greenery to make up for air pollution, said SN Patra, working president of Orissa Environmental Society (OES) adding most of the units did not abide by the norms.