Residents of Sukhpuri village in Panchmahals district, situated some 20 kms from Godhra, locked the primary school in their village for 10 days protesting the stone crushing project coming up near the village, claiming that the new plant spells a “dark future for their children”. They also hindered movement of vehicles carrying stones and were arrested under sections 141 and 341 of the Indian Penal Code on Friday, and later released on bail.
A stone quarry plant being constructed around 400 metres from the village school affects school-going children and villagers, they said. The quarry plant is in addition to a stone mining plant that has been operational near the village, for the last 15 years. Villagers said that they had to deal with dust and noise from dynamite blast from the mine for several years, they were not going to let the stone quarry plant come up in their vicinity.
“The entire village is fed up with the constant noise and dust storm that comes from the plant. While the mine is located at a distance, the crushing plant coming up near the village school will cause a lot of problem to our children.
We appealed to the collector and officials of the mines and mineral department, mamlatdar and pollution control board officials at Godhra but nobody paid attention, forcing us to take the matter in to our own hand,” said a villager, requesting anonymity.
Bhuvenshwari Quarry will be one of the largest in the region and has over 500 stone quarry plants. In their memorandum submitted to different government departments, the villagers stated that the constant blasts from the plant affects childred and old persons in the village and has also caused cracks in several houses.
“The wells and check dam that were meant to irrigate our farm land have dried up because of heavy mining nearby. Damages to houses are something we have tolerated for long but to allow a quarry plant to come up so close to the village will force us to leave the village, but we do not know where to go,” the villager said.
Police said that they registered a case against 19 villagers after they refused to lift the blockade of the road. “They shut down the school and blocked the road by putting large stones affecting the movement of vehicles. When we reached the spot, they refused to budge, upon which a case was filed and they were arrested,” said Godhra taluka police inspector S B Bharwad.
When contacted on phone, the proprietor of Bhuvaneshwari Quarry Amit Suthar refused to comment.