Officials say granite operators are buying time

The proposed re-survey of granite quarries in Madurai district has hit a road block with many parties summoned by officials for hearing getting repeated adjournments.

Official sources said here on Thursday that many quarry operators were buying time by seeking adjournments on dates in which they were expected to appear for hearing. Some of them obtained stay of the proceedings for a re-survey from the Madras High Court. The court had stayed the suspension of licences as well, officials noted. With the relief provided by the court, some operators, who were at large for months together, did appear before officials for the hearing.

The operators had sought a re-survey of their quarries as they claimed that the findings of the survey conducted in their absence by field staff were wrong. Many of them even challenged that the figures arrived at were not only incorrect but also alarming. In a bid to give the quarry operators a fair chance, the officials ordered re-survey. Before initiating the re-survey, operators were issued notices/summons to appear in person to explain their position.

A big operator, at a recent hearing, is said to have told the officials that many quarries did not belong to his firm and hence imposing fine on them was incorrect. When officials agreed for a re-survey to clear the doubts raised by the operator, he approached the court seeking stay of the proceedings, a senior official recalled.

Officials said that they had given a fair chance to those who had raised objections. In the event of continuous non-appearance, they would be forced to go ahead with the process as they had the proof to substantiate the charges made against the operators.The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, had announced at the recent conference of IAS officials that around Rs.4000 crore would be realised from granite quarries in which irregularities had been detected. Officials are now keen on realising the revenue by selling the granite stones seized by them.

Administration recommended cancellation of licences of 52 quarries as they allegedly committed criminal offences and violated norms.

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