Quarrying under scrutiny
The Center for Resource Education reports on the Rock Mining Industry around Hyderabad.
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The Centre for Resource Education, CRE, is a non-governmental organization working on environment and development issues in Andhra Pradesh. In December, 1999, CRE initiated a study of the rock quarrying industry around Hyderabad with a view to develop an information database, which would help facilitate discussions between the various stakeholders of the industry. CRE believes that this will also help in in initiating measures to protecting the environment while enabling the development of a dynamic and responsible stone quarrying industry, thereby also ensuring the welfare of the workers.

March 2002: Rock quarrying and stone crushing is a global phenomenon, and has been the cause of concern everywhere, including in countries like Singapore, Lebanon, United States, Pakistan and Israel. In Andhra Pradesh, there are an estimated 1400 quarries, which cater to the needs of railways, road construction and maintenance, housing and infrastructure building. Rock quarrying around Hyderabad has seen tremendous growth in the last decade or so. This is mainly because of the growing urbanization, enormous demand for housing, and the abundant availability of rocky hills in the surroundings. Rock quarrying has enormous impact on the environment, people and ecology. Not surprisingly, the problems that arise relate to the use of explosive materials, other occupational hazards as well as noise and dust pollution.

Click for larger map (173KB) of area covered under the assesment


  • Working conditions at the quarries
  • Living conditions
  • Stakeholder's workshop
  • Contact
    The Centre for Resource Education
    201, Maheshwari Complex
    Masab tank, Hyderabad 500 028
    Ph. 0091-40-661 3367, 662 1571
    The Government has initiated a few measures, but these are limited to licensing by different departments. There is neither a policy nor any concerted approach regulating the operations of this industry. For example, there has been no effort to dovetail procedures with that of the urban zoning (residential, industrial, commercial, etc) policy. Policy apathy has not helped the industry, workers, government and the people alike, instead corruption thrives.

    In this regard, CRE felt that there is a need to establish the baseline conditions in which this industry is operating, document its magnitude, assess future growth and demand, and build a scenario for alternatives, if need be. Presently, due to lack of authentic information at all levels policy development has become stunted. Even the government does not have information. In order to encourage the development of a policy, it becomes important to build an information database, which can help in analyzing meaningful solutions to the existing problems. Also, widespread awareness and education is required to enable rock-mining operations to be environment-friendly.

    With this in mind, the Center for Resource Development undertook a study of the industry and came out with several conclusions and recommendations. These conclusions were discussed with various stakeholders, including quarry representatives, by organising two workshops in March and September, 2001. The Final Report included discussions and suggestiosn from these workshops. The study was supported by Environment Fund for NGOs, New Delhi.

    The Study

    The assessment covered 111 units, under the administrative boundaries of 26 villages and eight revenue mandals. Out of the 111 units, nine are closed down - one due to a blasting accident (pending court case), one became bankrupt, four units yielded bad quality rock (powdery), one was closed down due to Hitech city, two units on the periphery of Hitech city cannot blast the stone and have to use the existing material and eventually close down.

    In the 1980s, all the stone crushing units were within the Hyderabad municipal limits (an area of 175 sq. km). Urban growth pushed them out to the peripheries. Present Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA) area is about 2000 sq. km. Stone crushing units are located partly in HUDA area and partly outside.

    These units have a total mining area of about 1223 acres, out of which only 295 acres is the leased land, while the rest is owned by the respective units.

    Of the 111 units, 73 were established between 1990 and 2000, roughly in line with the growth of Hyderabad, indicating the growing dependency of construction on stones. In about 75 units, 192 blastings per week are done. Regulators and locals say it is twice that. About 1700 tipper-loads of stone material is produced by these units, adding to a volume of 9,645 cu.m per day. Total labor employed directly adds upto 4,370, including males and females. The male-female ratio is 1:4. No child labour was observed or reported, though the children of the adult labour are seen on the site. Regular and assured labour welfare facilities were not apparent.

    Electricity consumption totals 10,771 horse power, a capacity for 2 power substations of 32 kV each. Electric supply is erratic, making the units depend on diesel generators. Water supply is based on borewells.

    There is dust pollution in all the units, and no protection for the environment, labour and people alike from this pollution. No measures for dust collection and suppression have been reported. Ambient air quality is laden with suspended dust particles up to a distance of 200 metres. Transport systems like conveyor belts and lorries convey dust to farther areas. Two thirds of the labour is afflicted by cough. More detailed health impact studies are required to establish the incidence of chronic diseases. Adverse impact on water courses, soil, hills and slopes could be seen clearly, though more scientific studies need to be done to establish this fact. Noise levels are very high, ranging between 58 dB to 88 dB. Frequent blasting is causing noise problems as well as vibrations resulting in damages to the houses and other structures nearby.

    CRE Recommendations: Remedies and Solutions in brief

    • Regular assessment of environmental impact and mitigating the effects of these problems through technology initiatives. Mandatory environment impact assessment reports for establishing new units.

    • Establishment of dust control mechanisms at the unit level.

    • Formulation of a code of conduct for the industry as a self-regulation mechanism.

    • Strengthening of the owner associations to regulate the sector - establishment, operations, licensing, marketing, taxation, etc. Strengthening of labour in the management of the units. Having stakeholder meetings involving the relevant government departments, industry representatives, NGOs, and other interests groups.

    • Extension of Public Liability Insurance Act to the quarrying and crushing units.

    • Efficiency in energy consumption. Alternative power sources (like solar energy, thermal radiation from rocks as source of fuel) have the potential to reduce the input costs, thus increasing the profit margin, leading to the healthy growth of the industry.

    • Options for restoration of abandoned quarry sites by infilling with quarry waste, and/or inert waste from Hyderabad and elsewhere and/or infilling with other non-inert or putrescible waste.

      [Note: Since contamination of nearby resources can be a distinct possibility, especially when the waste is not segregated, any land fill programme has to follow the logical steps involved in establishing a landfill for the waste, including the selection and assessment of the site and the environmental impact of locating such a site in the identified place.]

    • Introduction of Controlled blasting operations, to minimize hazards from flying missiles depending on its reliability and feasibility factors.

    • Protection of rare rock structures through fencing and zoning.

    • Safety procedures for workers, and application of Employees Safety Insurance, and other provisions.

    • Extension of education and training facilities to the traditional stone cutting and quarrying communities.

    • Single-window regulation of the sector.

    • Direct government expenditure on the sector, in terms of welfare, research, training, aimed at strengthening the sector and also in enabling it to fulfill its social and ecological responsbilities.

    • Isolation of the units from residential and urban spread through proper zoning and creation of a separate industrial estate.

    • Establishment of a Centre for Rock Mining and Information, by the government, for:

      • Documentation of traditional quarrying techniques, and livelihood pattern and culture of traditional stone cutting communities. Development of packages for rehabilitation of traditional communities
      • Create awareness amongst the entrepreneurs about better quality and productivity. Motivate and acclimatize them towards efficient and acceptable technologies.
      • Collect analyze and disseminate trade information about stone sector.
      • Specialised Training for officials of traditional communities, officials of the regulating departments, entrepreneurs, technicians and workers.
      • Undertake research and development activities.

    D. Narasimha Reddy
    March 2002