The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to take immediate steps to stop mining operations by encroachers on government lands.

“If the State or the authorities concerned do not take any steps to stop such illegal mining, then the court shall have no option but to presume that the persons concerned are also interested in continuation of such illegal activities,” the First Bench comprising Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S.Sivagnanam observed in its order while dismissing three writ petitions.

The Bench said its order be communicated to the Chief Secretary and to the Secretaries of the Departments of Industries and Geology and Mining forthwith for taking necessary action.

Earlier, V.N.P.Gomathi Sankara Narayanan, proprietor, Sri Ramajayam Ayyathunai Blue metals and two others doing blue metal business had sought to quash an order of the Tahsildar, Tambaram Taluk, and the consequential notice of May 3, 2007, and to direct the Kancheepuram District Collector to consider their representations of various dates in 2007.

Petitioner's argument

In the petition, Mr.Narayanan said that he was running the unit on lands at Trisoolam near here, measuring 0.20 cents, for more than four decades.

The lands belonged to the government and the Sub-Collector, Saidapet, by his proceedings in December 1979 had recommended leasing of the property to the petitioner and other similarly placed persons who were running the crusher units. The petitioner's grievance was that without considering his explanations, the impugned notice had been issued under Section 6 of the Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act, directing him to vacate the land. Aggrieved, he filed the present petition.

The Bench said that from the admitted facts by the petitioner, similar to the facts in the other two petitions, it was clear that the three petitioners were encroachers. They had been carrying on mining operations since 2007 without any valid mining lease. When the notice was issued, they filed writ petitions. Since the petitions were not properly opposed by the State, an interim order had been passed.

On that basis, till date, the three were carrying on the illegal mining operations.

The State or counsel representing it had not filed any counter affidavit for reasons best known to them.

Court's poser

“On what basis, therefore, the State allowed the petitioners, who are encroachers, to carry on the mining operations is not known and it remains a mystery,” the Bench observed.

The Judges directed the State government to take immediate steps to stop such mining operations which were being carried on not only by the petitioners, but also by other such encroachers.