DGP, Industries Secretary directed to issue suitable instructions to subordinates

Taking a stern view against “unabated illegal sand mining” and “transportation” to other States, the Madras High Court has said no transportation of sand should be allowed across the border unless such inter-state sale and transportation are permitted by the competent authorities.

The court directed the Secretary, Industries Department (Mining and Geology), and the Director General of Police, to issue suitable directions to their subordinates, for effective implementation of mining laws.

Dismissing a writ petition which complained that the authorities were interfering with free transportation of sand to other States, Justice S. Manikumar said that as per the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, the transport of sand shall not be permitted across the border to other States unless the competent authority has granted permission.

The judge said that despite the State government bringing in a rule in this regard in 2003, the perpetrators continued illegal mining and transportation of sand to Kerala and other States, where the demand was more. “The value of the sand sold across the border is more than the market price in Tamil Nadu,” he noted.

Directing the officers at check posts to be more vigilant, Mr. Justice Manikumar said: “Collusion or connivance, if any, noticed, should be dealt with stringent action.”

It was a common feature that after the State took over sand quarrying from 2003, illegal quarrying and transportation were rampant. The activities of private operators were unabated, the court said and added that judicial notice could also be taken of incidents frequently reported in the media that officers were threatened with dire consequences, when they tried to stop illegal transporters. “It could be noticed that action against officials alone is taken and the perpetrators of law go scot-free,” added Mr. Justice Manikumar.

RGNS Enterprises represented by its managing partner M. Gokulakrishnan filed the present writ petition seeking to restrain the authorities in Tamil Nadu from interfering with his trade of transporting sand from Puducherry to Kerala and other States with valid documents. While transporting sand to Kerala through the Tamil Nadu border, the authorities interfered with his business despite availability of necessary documents granted by Puducherry government.

Rejecting the petition, the judge said “when inter-state transportation is impermissible, the petitioner’s plea is beyond the legislative policy of the State government which has prohibited transportation of sand across the border.”

After analysing the pattern of cases filed in the High Court, the Judge noted that sometimes, sand was being illegally transported by showing silica sand on the top of the carriers and hiding the sand beneath it. Silica sand is a type of sand, which is exempted from the regulations.

“The penal provisions had not given desired results, obviously, either due to the method adopted by illegal miners or transporters, and also due to connivance or dereliction of duty, by officers, at check points.”

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