The dark underbelly of Guntur’s illegal mining

For years, the vast expanse of natural white limestone under the earth has been excavated by local people. The pulverised stone was used as an essential feed in poultry farms, as a component in paints and distemper, and as aggregate in floor tiles. In 1959, the A.P. government issued 20-year leases to the Associated Cement Companies Ltd. for land at Konanki and Piduguralla villages. By 1994, the total land leased out to the company stood at 644.11 acres. ACC, which used the white limestone at its Krishna Cement Factory in Vijayawada later stopped mining following the closure of the cement factory. Subsequently, when applications for renewal of mining leases were rejected, the gates were thrown open for illegal mining. What began as small operations by local communities soon attained monstrous proportions. Huge quantities of explosives were used to open up the veins and earth movers lifted huge blocks of limestone.

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