The locals claim the 30 granite crushers are operating illegally in Sao Jose Areal
Margao: The granite stone crushers at Sao Jose Areal was in the news lately because of complaints filed by locals who claim that they are operating illegally. Herald inspected the area and found out that there are more than 30 granite stone crushers in the hilly regions in between Sao Jose Areal and Sarzora.
The area suffers from severe dust pollution especially when the crushers are operating and during the movement of trucks. Many of the crushers do not have dust suppression systems. The water is sprinkled on the ground manually by the labour using hand pipes. The water is drawn from a common well using pumps, which is illegal considering that the crushers are using the water for commercial use without any permission from the Water Resource Department.
What was even more shocking is that the migrant labour and their families who are working in the crusher units live within or adjacent to the crusher units in small huts. The Herald team which visited the site on Tuesday evening witnessed children playing and women, including a pregnant woman, casually sitting and chatting, right next to a crusher unit while that was operational.
The surrounding area including the trees are covered with dust. The internal roads leading to all the crushers are around 2.5 meters in width and are in a dilapidated condition. A senior citizen living along the Sarzora –Sao Jose Areal road also complained about the trucks that move at high speed along the road which is used by locals, senior citizens and school children.
Herald inquired with many of the crusher units whether they had permissions, they all replied that their owner has it and he is not there at present. The Panchayats of the affected village all have a different take on it. While the Sarpanch of Sao Jose Areal informed Herald that all the crushers in the village in the area were operating for last many years and have all the permissions, he admitted that they may not have Sanad conversion because when they had started operations Sanad was not required.
The Sarpanch of Sarzora Sabita Mascarenhas claims that the crushers have been issued notices regarding the lack of toilets in the crusher units. She informed that whenever they go for inspection, all the sprinklers were switched on.
She claimed that in her term, only one crusher has been issued a provisional NOC. The status of the rest of the crushers are unknown. People living close to the crusher claim that since one of the Panch members has a crusher, all the crushers are protected from any action.
The dust pollution generated from crushers in Sarzora also affects Dramapur village. Villagers informed that they had complained several times but no action has been taken. Sources in Goa Pollution Control Board informed that they were not aware whether Consent to Operate Certificate has been issued to the stone crushers. They informed that they will look into the matter and if required, inspect the site.
Impact of Long-term exposure to silica dust generated by granite crusher
According to Dr Fransico Colaco, granite and granite dust is dangerous. “Crystalline silica is a natural component of granite rock. Excessive amounts can cause serious and potentially fatal lung disease. In acute cases, those exposed to granite dust may experience fever and sharp chest pain along with breathing difficulty. In chronic cases, you go on to develop irreversible dangerous ‘interstitial lung disease’ where you experience air hunger. You also become more prone to contract tuberculosis n even lung cancer. In pregnancy miscarriages and premature deliveries can occur”, he said.
A survey study carried out by Dr. T. Semban in 2000 at a stone crusher cluster comprising 14 units in Trichy District of Tamil Nadu State revealed that there is an adverse impact on the health of the stone crusher workers in terms of diseases like respiratory, eye and skin irritation, diarrhoea and lung ailments etc. Also, a substantial number of workers suffer from headache, fever, chest pain etc.