Seeks closure of a sand mining unit belonging to V.V. Minerals, country’s largest exporter of garnet

A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court Bench here seeking a direction to Tirunelveli Collector to close down a sand mining unit of V.V. Minerals, one of the country’s largest exporters of garnet and ilmenite, at Ponnarkulam in Irukanthurai panchayat and to regulate other such mines situated within 30 kilometres from Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

A.S. Ravi, a resident of Kudankulam and past secretary of a farmers’ association, had filed the petition claiming that excessive mining of coastal areas for exploitation of precious gemstones had led to large scale sea erosion in the locality.

Such erosion posed a threat to the inhabitants as well as the nuclear power plant which was all set to get operational within a couple of months. He claimed that the government had already built a safety wall in Idinthakarai to prevent sea erosion. Though the area within five kilometres of the nuclear power plant had been declared as a no-mining zone, some of the private miners had been flouting the rule, the petitioner alleged and sought to keep the area within a radius of 30 kilometres as a sterile zone free from mining.

He alleged V.V. Minerals alone had been mining thousands of tonnes of sand every day from the area prohibited for mining. A representation made to the Collector in this regard on March 7 was still pending consideration, the petitioner said and sought for an interim direction restraining V.V. Minerals.