Principal Chief Conservator of Forests on Monday informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench that no stone quarry lease was granted in Reserve Forest areas of Erode and Coimbatore districts, barring one in Coimbatore.
Based on the news report published in The Hindu on August 7 on illegal stone quarrying activities in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve Forest, the NGT, through suo motu proceedings, restrained any person from quarrying in the forest area without obtaining permission from the competent authorities. It also directed the authorities to file a comprehensive report.
When the matter came up for hearing before the Bench, comprising Justice P.Jyothimani and Prof. R.Nagendran, the comprehensive report was filed by M.K.Subramanian, Special Government Pleader, on behalf of Gautam Dey, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
The head of forest force submitted that no quarry lease was granted inside the Reserve Forest areas, except one quarry in Coimbatore district. All other stone quarries were situated outside the forest boundaries of Erode and Coimbatore districts.
The officer added that one quarry in Coimbatore district was also permitted with the sanction of the Union government under Forest Conservation Act 1980.
However, the District Forest Officer (DFO) had been specifically directed to examine the implication or impact of the functioning of the quarry within the Reserved Forest area.
Furnishing the details about quarries functioning near the boundary of the forest, the officer said that each unit got permission from the authorities under Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959 and Hill Area Conservation Authority wherever it was required. He added that the officers were asked to verify on each unit and ensure that the fresh guidelines are complied within a time-bound manner.