Stone quarry workers take to streets, protest government order

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Srinagar: After the government banned the mining of stones at Pantha Chowk and Athwajan areas of Srinagar city owing to ecological reasons, scores of stone quarry workers lead by MLA Sonwar, Muhammad Ashraf Mir today took to Srinagar-Jammu highway at Athwajan and protested against the government order.

The government in its order had also claimed that stone mining hinders the implementation of smart city project.
“A few days ago government sent a notice to the Himalaya Quarry Association Pantha Chowk and the United Quarry Association Aathwajan and directed them to stop mining at the Alfatah, a hillock at Panthachock,” claimed, Zahid Ali, one of the spokespersons of Himalaya Quarry Association.

Zahid said that they have paid Rs 7000 to obtain the permits for mining at the mentioned sites and that they also pay Rs 13000 per month as royalty towards government for mining.

“We have taken loans from banks for our vehicles and business units and government, now by stopping our businesses will cause us many problems,” Manzoor Ahmad a stone quarrying shop owner told.

Protesters demanded that government should come up with alternates so that they can continue their business activities.
Local MLA Ashraf Mir told, “Geology and mining department has banned the stone carvers from mining the hill. “Stone mining business is going here from last 70 years and in no way is going to hinder the implementation of smart city project.”

Mir said he will take up the issue with the government and ensure that the people associated with the business are not affected.
While the protest had stopped the vehicular movement on the highway, a contingent of police led by Muhammad Ayoob, station house officer Pantha chowk police station, reached the spot and persuaded the protesters to retreat and allow the traffic movement on the road. The protesters later dispersed off peacefully.

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