Sirohi is a small village close to Kot located 40km to the south of Delhi, and has for many years been the site of major limestone and marble. The quarrying operations though ceased in 2007 when the land owner, the regional government passed on the worked out wasteland to the local government. The villagers and others are now wishing to see something done to redevelop this large area and return it to both a more cared for and economically viable state.
The village is at present involved with Skilled Samaritans who have developed a local renewable electricity supply network for the area and started to consider the transformation of the strangely beautiful but desolate landscape. Clean Rivers Trust has agreed to work alongside Skilled Samaritans in the restoration of the site to return it to a safe and economically valuable place within the community in which it is located. The quarry prior to its closure was the economic heart of the area with a major proportion of the population employed at the site.
Since closure in 2007 the population has suffered severely from the economic loss with unemployment and the consequent hardships common across the sub-continent when such operations shut. Local people wish to take back their communities economic future with the redevelopment of the site with lakes and pasture. Such water bodies are at present scattered about the site and are at present lifeless as is much of the exposed quarry.
Skilled Samaritans alongside the community are looking to effect this change with local expertise, skills and resources, Clean Rivers Trust which has had 20 and more years’ experience in remediating mining sites and tacking water issues that in this instance appear to be relatively unpolluted, will support the program of works which it will develop with all the stakeholders.
The waters of the quarry bottom are fed by groundwater naturally entering the void spaces and surface water drainage. Unusually for the region the groundwaters entering the lakes are not rich in chlorides as is common in much of the Delhi region which is prone to such pollution infiltrating the upper aquifers. This chance occurrence can be exployted to enable an economic fishery to be developed within the larger and deeper flooded voids. The second photograph appears to show some algal growth which may be coursed by nutrient enrichment that may be natural occurring but will need investigation.
The landscapes will need to be made safe with regard to ground stability issues and once that has been achieved a surface restoration may be begun. Dependant on the available materials in the area, some topsoil or other biodegradable materials will allow for a more rapid greening of the site to encourage grazing. At the same time an assessment of the aesthetics of the site and its geological exposures may be safeguarded and into the future exploited as potential tourist attractions.
Other economic uses of parts of the site may include enterprises using muds and and other naturaly occurring deposits for the cosmetic industry which has a continually growing interest in such products both in India and internationally.
Clean Rivers Trust will visit the old quarries shortly to look for any polluted areas and assess the full scale of the project in detail so that a full works schedule may be drawn up. The Trust will meet with the community and other stakeholders to ensure maximum value and agreement for what might be carried through during the sites restoration.
Issues to be addressed include land stability including potentially dangerous rock falls, dust and windblown pollution / health concerns, accessibility to water’s edge of lakes, water quality and possible pollution sources and pathways. A set of water analysis results regarding water quality from one site in the quarry area demonstrates no pollution within its chemistry and though no metals were tested for there may not be any major pollutions to be remediated as full survey across the site will allow a greater surety of water quality
The development of the quarry site will need extensive research and development; the issues of sustainability, economic and sociological good being to the fore in regard to future land uses
Muds of the geological makeup of the quarry are similar to others used in several cosmetic foundation products and skin/face packs from around the world; the location of the redundant quarry to a major centre of population and the national capital makes it potentially an economically viable entity in its own right.
Fish farming is a potential economic development that is being examined at the site where one small ‘pond’ has already been stocked with small fish for 8 months and fish and are being taken at increased size for food.
Once land stability issues have been addressed the need to bring about some sort of revegetation is desirable to both limit dust pollution across the area and develop the potential for grazing of sheep and goats. This latter issue will be a key development as it will develop as an economic driver and at the same time fertilise the poor quality ground. The grazing animals will further reduce dust through compaction of dusts.
Already the quarry site is becoming a small scale tourist destination with organised walks in the area. The location being close to the capital encourages visitors to seek out the rural area and visit the picturesque parts of the site. This can be greatly expanded with a site that is safe with water and exposed rock faces: Orienteering, mountain biking, and other low impact sporting uses may be encouraged into the future alongside the economic developments of grazing, fish farming and possible cosmetic manufacture within the site.
Clean Rivers Trust looks forward to visiting the site shortly and to fully understanding all the issues that the site has. This visit will include fieldwork and meetings with the communities about the site.