Thursday, February 21, 2019

Quarrying in Pampanga still regulated, limited

File photo

DESPITE the induced by the southwest monsoon lately, quarrying in Pampanga is still highly regulated and limited.

About four months ago during the dry season, quarrymen in the province hoped that rains will push the compacted lahar deposits down to quarry sites in waterways along Porac, Floridablanca and Bacolor towns to subsequently meet the required levels or quantities demanded for the construction needs in and out of the province.

However, Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office head Art Punsalan disclosed on Wednesday, July 11, that despite the heavy rains, quarrying in and hauling of sand and gravel from the province have been capped to a certain volume and remain regulated.

“So far the replenishment is not yet that much particularly in the areas of Bacolor and Floridablanca since the areas in Porac where sand was over extracted has to be filled up again,” he told Sun.Star Pampanga.

As an initial measure, quarry permittees have taken the initiative to rehabilitate the over extracted quarry sites, he said.

“Another thing is that our quarry permitees are doing rehabilitation in their respective areas by addressing problems in the over extracted portions which they have to level. They themselves are self-regulating quarrying in their jurisdictions to bring back the previous allowable volume of sand,” Punsalan said.

Integrity of structures, compliance

Punsalan furthered that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has created a composite team to assure the integrity of structures near over extracted quarry sites and the compliance of quarrymen with laws.

“The composite team is headed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), local government units and the Environment Management Bureau which will ensure that the integrity of structures are protected near quarry sites based on provisions. These include bridges and dikes where buffer zones are needed. Additionally, quarry permittees should also comply with the ECC or environment compliance certificate,” he stressed.

Responsible mining

Despite revenues generated from Pampanga’s quarry industry, which stood at P2.516 billion as of last week of June, Punsalan noted that officials are wary that over extraction might become bigger if not regulated.

“The concern of Governor Lilia Pineda and Vice-Governor Dennis Pineda is that over extraction might be bigger and may not compensate revenues, so they are advocating for responsible mining to cushion the impact. While the accreditation of haulers is ongoing, the provincial government is also continuously monitoring overloaded trucks and haulers whose trucks are not covered to avert threats these pose to commuters and motorists alike,” he added.

No engineering interventions at this time

Punsalan noted that man-made or engineering interventions may not be necessary at this time due to some concerns.

“There was a study conducted on the natural compaction of lahar deposits in the upstream. At this point, the team sees no need to blast the compacted deposits. To do so, we will need a permit from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Other than that, we will need experts who are adept at blasting. For now, we will let nature take its course,” he said.

Saving sand for Pampanga

Punsalan said that the provincial government is coordinating with agencies in saving sand for priority projects.

“There is a need to address quarry supply because of the Build Build Build program. We are coordinating with the Clark Development Corporation and Bases Conversion and Development Authority that priority be given to Clark projects and other expansion programs across Pampanga. In fact, I have been reminded by DPWH Undersecretary Pie Yabut that we need to regulate and save sand for Pampanga, that we should limit and regulate quarrying until such time that our projects are completed,” concluded Punsalan. (JTD)


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