The Madras High Court has directed the Vellore District Collector to verify whether necessary permission had been obtained for quarrying sand on the banks of River Palar.
First Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh gave the directive on a PIL filed by a farmer who alleged that sand was being quarried illegally from the river banks in Vellore District.
In an order passed on Tuesday, the Bench asked the District Collector to examine representations made by the petitioner and other villagers in this regard last month and respond to the same within one month.
The collector should verify whether necessary permission was obtained and quarrying activity was confined to the area and the depth stipulated, it said.
The petitioner, an agriculturalist of Kandaneri Village, submitted that there were 40 villages situated on the banks of Palar River in the district. The river has more than 23 big water source wells serving as the main ground water source for these villages.
The petition alleged that while only three feet of sand from the surface level was allowed for quarrying purpose, local mining barons were exploiting it to the level of 20 feet.
Though representations were submitted to the officials, no inspection had been carried out so far to check the illegal quarrying, he said praying the court to direct the District Collector to take steps to stop the illegal sand mining.
When the matter came up for hearing, Government Pleader S T S Murthi submitted that permission was granted only on Jan 25 last and the petitioner along with the villagers were immediately protesting.
The GP further stated that permission was granted by the Environmental Impact Assessment Authority for quarrying.
Recording the above submission, the bench directed the Collector to verify whether permission was obtained for quarrying and whether it was confined to the area and depth stipulated and respond to the petitioner.