Tension at Aanaiyaarkulam near Palayamkottai

Tension prevailed at Aanaiyaarkulam on the outskirts of Palayamkottai on Tuesday after residents chased away a few lorries loading red gravel with heavy equipment.

As the residents, who have launched a struggle against illicit mining in their area, saw the lorries taking red gravel with earthmovers on Tuesday, they tried to detain the trucks.

The drivers managed to escape with their gravel laden vehicles though the residents continued to agitate at the spot forcing the police and revenue officials to rush to the area to pacify the protestors.

“We’ve forwarded several petitions to the officials right from the Collector but no action was taken against the illicit miners,” the residents alleged. They said the illicit miners, armed with earthmovers and lorries, were taking red gravel, usually used for filling up purpose, from 20 acres of ‘poramboke’ land without obtaining permission from the Department of Mines. To make their “unlawful activity” easier, the miners had removed the acacia grown on the land and taking the gravel for several metre depth which would seriously affect the groundwater level in this region. “When the police conducted a check during a night to nab the illicit miners, the drivers tried to knock them down with the gravel laden trucks and escaped. A case registered in this connection is still pending before the court. Even before the storm triggered by this attempt to murder incident is to settle down, illicit gravel quarrying has resumed once again,” the residents complained.

They said the residents of Aanaiyaarkulam have to take the alternative route to reach the cremation ground as huge craters have been dug in the area.

The residents dispersed only after the police assured them that appropriate action would be taken.