Massive traffic jam in Pantha Chowk after stone-quarry workers stage protest

SRINAGAR: Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on Kashmir highway near Pantha Chowk area of Srinagar on Monday after quarry holders blocked the road in protest against the government for banning stone quarrying activities in Athwajan and Pantha Chowk and demanded immediate revocation of the ban.

The quarry holders under the banner of “United Quarry Association” were carrying the banners reading ‘ Revoke ban on stone quarrying activities and relieve us from the pain’.

The protesters raised slogans in favour of the justice and demanded the authorities to revoke the ban at the earliest.

An eyewitness said that road was blocked by protesting quarry holders led to a massive traffic jam. He said that hundreds of vehicles including school buses were left stranded on the road and the passengers demanded the government officials negotiate with the protestors.

A senior officer of the geology and mining department told media that the government had banned operations in the mines of Athwajan and Patha Chowk almost two years back. “They were using political pressure to skip its implementation and were illegally continuing mining,” the officer said. “Now the government has decided to implement the ban which they are resenting to.”

The officer said the ban of mining in these areas was announced because of the vulnerability of these mountains and their closeness to the city. “They were earlier shown an alternative spot near Aripora on the road leading to Zewan but the new spot needs them to invest a bit which they are reluctant.” The officer said the leaseholders are making better money from the existing mines because they are close to the highway and costs for mining and slightly less. “But these mountains are hugely vulnerable,” he said.

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