Calls for production of licences granted by Collectors to PWD

The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday ordered for production of licences granted by the Collectors of Namakkal, Karur, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts to the Public Works Department for quarrying sand along the stretches of rivers Cauvery, Amaravathi and Kollidam flowing through the six districts.

A Division Bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice G. . Akbar Ali passed the direction after it felt that the counter affidavits filed by the officials did not contain information sufficient for disposing of the case.

The judges wanted to know by July 16 the details of all conditions imposed by the Collectors while permitting the PWD to operate the quarries.

The interim order was passed during the hearing of a batch of writ petitions as well as public interest litigation petitions filed with a plea to forbear the PWD from quarrying sand from the three rivers.

According to one of the petitioners, there were about 42 quarries in Cauvery and Kollidam rivers flowing across Karur, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam.

Claiming that it was mandatory on the part of the Collectors to obtain environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests before granting permission to quarry sand from an area spread over five hectares, the petitioner alleged that no such clearance had been obtained in respect of the quarries being operated in the three rivers.

He pointed out that the Union Ministry had issued various notifications from time to time for better implementation of the Environment Protection Act 1986.

A notification issued in 1994, had made it mandatory for the officials to obtain environment clearance from the Ministry before issuing licence to quarry major minerals from an area spread over five hectares.

The notification was extended even to minor minerals in 2006.

However, the permission to quarry sand from the three rivers flowing through the six districts had been given without obtaining a clearance either from the Union Ministry or the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority, the petitioner said.

The petitioner also accused the miners of flouting the conditions imposed by the Collectors.

Keywords: sand mining

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