Chennai: Observing that the state alone is responsible for this sorry state of affairs relating to illegal sand mining, the Madras High Court has directed that the quarrying operations, even in those areas where there are shoals of sand, must be undertaken, only by abiding to the norms and conditions of the environmental clearance.
“The quarry site shall be closed immediately after removing the available shoals of sand. The area and the depth of the quarry shall be in accordance with the permission granted by the environmental authorities. Such quarrying operations would be subject to the result of the special leave petition, pending before the Supreme Court”, said a division bench comprising Justices K.K. Sasidharan and G.R. Swaminathan.
The bench gave the directive while disposing of a batch of petitions which sought a direction to the state to take effective and appropriate action to ensure closure/stoppage of all the mining activities in and around the river Coleroon and the river Cauvery in the districts of Trichy and Karur, for 10 years for natural replenishment of sand to restore the river environment, which is spoiled by excess mining and illegal mining by mining mafia in collusion with those in power and government officials.
In its order, the bench said the State must take immediate measures to remove the approach roads and close the quarry sites at Thiruvasi, Kiliyanallur, Unniyur, Kariamankam, Alambadi, Manamedu.
The sand mining shall not be undertaken in respect of locations where illegal sand mining has already been carried out, the bench added.
The bench said the state must ensure that the sand quarries would adhere to the norms regard extent and depth. The boundary of the quarry shall be demarcated by the following procedure set out under Clause 2 (ii) of the conditions imposed by the environmental authority. The project director must ensure robust monitoring of the sand mining. In case of any violation of the conditions prescribed by the environmental authority, the same shall be reported by the field official to the project director. The project director must take immediate action for suspension of the quarrying operations pending enquiry, the bench added.
The bench said the officer-in-charge of the sand quarry must be made personally accountable for violation of any of the conditions.
The present procedure of engaging sand lifting contractors must be abolished. The lifting contractors must be appointed through e-tender by following a transparent procedure, the bench added....