The owners of stone crushers in Una have threatened to block roads if their demands were not met by the government. Dimple Thakur, president of the stone crusher owners association of Una, said that they would block roads with tractor-trailers if the government did not pay heed to their demands. They also threatened to take their strike statewide and hamper development works.
Dimple Thakur alleged that they went on a strike as the government had failed to provide them protection against groups of anti-social elements, who were hampering their legal business in villages. The stone crusher owners are objecting to groups of vigilantes that have come in many areas of the state who are opposing movement to heavy vehicles on rural roads.
The other demand of the stone crusher owners is that they should be allowed mechanical mining in the leased areas allotted to them. They are demanding that the government should allow them to lift sand and gravel with 80 BHP machines as was being done in many other states.The stone crushers owners are alleging that the making mechanical mining illegal even in leased out areas is leading to corruption.
Director, Industries Himachal, Rakesh Prajapati said the government policy was clear that it would not allow illegal mining. The pressure tactics of stone crusher owners wont work and those involved in illegal mining would be dealt with strictly as per the directions of the NGT, he said.
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A Gazette for Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary issued on December 24th, 2018 mentioned the inclusion of four villages Paye, Payegaon, Brahmangaon, and Khardi under the Eco-Sensitive Zone of Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary.
The protest was raised by all Gram Panchayat, local MP, MLA and Shramik Sangathan. The Inclusion was done without offering any public hearing or intimation by way of publishing the news in newspapers or any public media. This was done without observing any ground reality of the area.
In 34th Expert Committee Meeting dated March 6th, 2019, Maharashtra Government recommended and represented to the Committee for removal of these villages from the proposed boundary of the said Eco-Sensitive Zone; but no response was given by the committee. Thereafter in 36th Expert Committee Meeting dated July 18th, 2019, the Committee declined the request of the Maharashtra Government and finalized the gazette.
With the finalization of the Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary gazette on dated September 11th, 2019, the Forest Department of Maharashtra Government included the villages Paye, Payegaon, Brahman Village, and Khardi, situated at Vasai Bhiwandi Road, Taluka Bhiwandi, District Thane covering about 381.757 hectares of private land, in ESZ.
The Revenue Department (Collector) unexpectedly immediately served a Stop Work Notice dated October 1st, 2019 to the crushers and brick kilns, stopping all the construction stones & bricks manufacturing activities.
Kantilal Ganpat Devlikar, President of PayeBrahmangaon Mining & Stone Crushers Owners Association stated that major villagers are Adivasis and have no other income source, not even from farming, due to the rocky terrain of this village area. Thus, local people were majorly dependant on businesses like stone crushing, quarrying work, transportation of stones, brick manufacturing, machinery hiring, hotels for food for the migrant labours, etc.; all these have stopped for now.
Each crusher unit used to generate around 65 to 100 jobs directly or indirectly for the people who were non-educated or educated (like operators, mining labour, drivers, helpers, mechcs, electricians, transporters, hoteliers, watchman, housekeeping, etc.).
These quarries and crushers were producing the best quality hard black rock (Basalt Stone), considered as a preferred choice over any other rocks, by the engineers, for city infrastructure development projects around Mumbai, Thane, and Kalyan.
The strength and many other good properties of these stones facilitated in better construction quality, lesser fuel emissions due to the proximity to these cities, reduced transportation cost, and above all reduction in cement requirement, thereby overall helping in reducing the carbon footprint.
Now after the closure, the stones are being sourced from Manor, Wada, Palghar, Uran, and Gavan area; where the stones are of inferior quality. As these places are located far from Mumbai, Thane, and Kalyan, there is more fuel emission and increased cost of transport.
These four villages were never part of a forest and were in existence for decades and also the adjoining small patch (presented as an existing forest) is actually not a forest and is a totally rocky area. There have never been any wandering or sightings of any wild mals in the past 20 years in these areas due to the presence of dense human population.
Sanjay M Shah, Secretary of PayeBrahmangaon Mining & Stone Crushers Owners Association stated that they all have demanded that the limits of the eco-sensitive zone be revised by re-demarcation of ESZ boundaries and the area of four villages be released from this enforced ESZ.
Around 381.757-hectare private land was forced into Eco-Sensitive Zone without any prior information or any study on wildlife, no public hearing or any kind of sharing of the information provided to landowners, villagers without permitting them an opportunity or representation in this regard, which is against principles of natural justice provided in the constitution of India to every citizen.