An NGO has accused a private company of mining in Tirunelveli district for 18 years without clearance

The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Friday ordered notice to Central and State government authorities on a plea to stop alleged illegal sand mining in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) in Tirunelveli district.

A Tirunelveli-based non-governmental organisation has alleged that a private company had been mining for the past 18 years, without obtaining environmental clearance, in Karaichithuputhur, near Radhapuram, Tirunelveli district.

The Bench, comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and Prof. R. Nagendran ordered notices to the authorities to file their replies after admitting the application filed by the Coastal Ecology and Environment Conservation and Protection Society.

According to the applicant, The Indian Ocean Garnet Sand Company Private Limited was granted a lease in 1990 by the State government to mine garnet sand from mineralised beach sand.

Meanwhile, the Union government imposed restrictions on the setting up and expansion of industries’ operations or processes. As per its notification, it was made mandatory to obtain environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The applicant alleged the company had not obtained consent to establish and operate the said mining lease from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). Even after the expiry of the lease period, the company had been mining without obtaining the necessary consent from the TNPCB or environmental clearance from the MoEF. It had also established a mineral benefaction unit and environment degradation was caused due to mining activity in the CRZ, the applicant alleged.

Posting the matter for further hearing on August 22, the Bench directed the private company to file its reply on that day.