HC holds PWD, police responsible for irregularities

The Madras High Court has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged illegal sand quarrying in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.

Passing the order on a writ petition filed by an association of lorry owners, Justice S. Manikumar asked the agency to “crack the network, if any, and find out the external network” behind the rampant illegal quarrying.

The court pulled up authorities in the two districts and the police for remaining silent on illegalities. The CBI was asked to take stringent action against the officials if prima facie material indicated the offences.

Disposing of a writ petition filed by lorry owners, Justice S. Manikumar said authorities in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts, the Public Works Department and the police had remained silent. They had failed to exercise proper administrative control to prevent contravention of the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, he said.

“They have not only failed to meet the expected standards of performance of their duties and their inaction, in the opinion of this court, is not short of dereliction of their duties or abetting the crime,” the Judge added.

Poonamallee Circle River Sand Lorry Owner’s Association had filed the writ petition seeking a direction to the authorities including the collectors of the two districts to take appropriate action against M. Palanisamy of Coimbatore and his men for selling river sand by setting up stockyard, without obtaining a dealer licence.

Mr. Justice Manikumar said “The report of the Assistant Director of Geology and Mines, Kancheepuram, the action now taken by the District Collector to effect seizure, and the ocular evidence available on the face of record make it clear that something grave had been shielded by many persons.”

The court said the CBI should prosecute the officials, if prima facie material indicated the offences of illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals.

The CBI was directed to forward the investigation report to the Chief Secretary, to ascertain revenue loss to the government.