Who’s The Quarry?
More than 400 active leases in the Sikar belt
1,200 trucks move out of Rajasthan Aravallis daily
In Dabla alone, 50 ha of land mined
Area has five small rivers, three clogged with sludge.
The ceiling of her house has some long cracks, the roof has become unstable, the floor in some parts has caved in. When Reshmi built her house in the Dabla village of Sikar district in Rajasthan last year, the 65-year-old Dalit woman had thought it would be her refuge in her old age. Instead, she lives a nightmare every day. There are blasts, the earth keeps shaking. It’s like living in a war zone that is simultaneously having an earthquake.
Reshmi is one of the unfortunate residents of a cluster of villages in the Neem Ka Thana belt in Sikar, where the mining mafia is operating in complete violation of court orders. Having been pushed out of Haryana after the Supreme Court stopped mining there, the mining firms have moved into the Aravallis of Rajasthan. Advocate Pallavi Mehta explains what’s going on. Although the 2002 SC order restricted mining in the entire Aravalli range, existing companies were given permission in 2005 to mine in some areas. But, Mehta says, “we found many new companies whose addresses can’t be verified.” The Rajasthan government, meanwhile, passed an order that hills below an elevation of 100 metres are not part of the Aravallis!
Given this inch of concessions, the miners have extracted a mile. They’re blasting holes into the range to wrench stones and gravel for building material and to make cement. Nary a thought is spared for the villagers whose homes and lives are being systematically destroyed. They are terrified of the deep-hole blasts of ammonium nitrate. In violation of every safety norm, mines and crushers are operating very close to homes, schools and public spaces. Dullaram, an old man from Biharipur village, has tears in his eyes: “Hundreds of trucks pass every day through our villages, loaded with stones and crushed gravel. They’re damaging our houses and roads. We’re scared, the air is polluted. Our life has become hell. Please do something for us.”