"Every day, hundreds of sand lorries ply through T. Kalvikudi from the illegal sand quarry at Natham causing great inconvenience to the locals," said C. Gurusamy, one of the farmers.

Despite the expiry of its licence, a sand quarry at Natham (near Anbil) continues to haul several loads of sand every day, according to villagers from neighbouring T. Kalvikudi. In order to bring the issue to the attention of district authorities, a group of farmers from the village submitted a petition to the Collector, on Monday.

“Every day, hundreds of sand lorries ply through T. Kalvikudi from the illegal sand quarry at Natham causing great inconvenience to the locals,” said C. Gurusamy, one of the farmers.

Alleging the involvement of the Natham panchayat president and councillor, the villagers claimed that nearly Rs. 25 lakh had been spent by the duo to suppress opposition from local body authorities at T. Kalvikudi and Alangudi.

“The main road that passes through our village is not made for such heavy load bearing vehicles and has been constantly deteriorating,” said Gurusamy, who added that the road was becoming dangerous for pedestrians including school going children. “The houses that flank the road on either side are constantly covered in dust; the air is highly polluted; and most buses bypass our village to avoid the traffic.”

With roads continually being blocked by lorries, farmers say they find it difficult to take their produce to markets.

About a month ago, villagers protested and managed to bring the operation of lorrys to a temporary halt. “We made a complaint to the Regional Divisional Officer here who promised to address the situation after making a survey of the situation,” said Gurusamy.

The villagers want the road to have restricted access to heavy load bearing vehicles like sand lorries.

Recently, when men (who the petitioners claim work for the Natham panchayat president and councillor) began plugging pot holes caused by lorries, they decided to bring the issue to the notice of the District Revenue Officer. “We are worried that they are going to resume their activities and we want to find a lasting solution to the issue,” said Gurusamy.

Incidentally, an initiative led by the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, recently exposed illegal sand mining across the central districts through a photo exhibition inaugurated by CPI leader R. Nallakannu. The photographs are part of the evidence submitted to the Madurai High Court where a PIL has been filed against sand quarries, by the sangam.