Koswetiya Mountain calcite excavation: All operating illegal mines arrested
By Thameenah Razeek
Several persons had been arrested for illegally operating the calcite deposit mines at the Pallebedda Koswetiya Mountain, which could have caused a major catastrophe in the suburbs including the Samanala Wewa Reservoir. The equipment used for excavations was seized.
The Police said that the entire team that was responsible for the illegal excavation had been arrested.
According to the report submitted by the expert committee, appointed to look into the recent earthquakes in Sri Lanka, it was cited that some deep underground excavations, using explosives were taking place and those excavations could cause earthquakes in the Balangoda area.
The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau took steps to conduct a special operation to investigate such excavations in the Balangoda area. Officers from the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau as well as the Police Special Task Force (STF) were able to arrest all those involved in the excavation of the illegal calcite deposit at the Koswetiya Mountain. The excavations were carried out about 150 meters wide and 80 meters deep inside the mountain.
The excavation was reportedly powered by a generator and had a large stockpile of high explosives close to the generator, which could have brought down the entire mountain with a large explosion if a fire had occurred.
Therefore, Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, instructed the GMSB Chair to take steps to revoke the licence used for excavation and to conduct a comprehensive investigation into whether there are other such sites in and around Balangoda.