In a move that will shake up the well-established illegal sand mining business in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has ordered a team of mining and atomic mineral experts to collect samples from three key coastal districts in southern Tamil Nadu. A report will also be submitted to the court, adding to the woes of sand mining cartel which has allegedly mined major minerals worth more than Rs.1 lakh crore illegally.
The court has directed the assistant commissioner of customs to furnish details of quantity of monazite and other beach minerals exported, along with their value, year-wise from 2006, till date. The Tamil Nadu Government will now have to depute experts from Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, Hyderabad and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to coastal districts of Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari.
They will be collecting samples of raw materials from sand mining for an assessment of the availability of mineral monazite and submit a report. The First Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh and Justice RMT Teekaa Ramanwas was hearing a PIL on the matter of Beach Sand Minerals and was going through a report submitted by amicus curiae of the special team headed by IAS officer Gagandeep Singh Bedi, prior to the order.
The amicus curiae's status report pointed out that about over 90 lakh tonnes of beach sand had been illegally mined from 412.99 acres. In Kaniyakumari district alone, 54 lakh tonnes of sand was mined from 4.05 acres. Bedi submitted that illicit mining and transportation of beach sand continued on a massive scale despite a ban on mining of beach sand since 2013.
The report further brought to the notice of the bench that an alleged attempt made by VV Minerals for mining and transporting the minerals without proper documentation.