An agriculturist of Ariyalur district has filed a public interest litigation petition in the Madras High Court, alleging that round-the-clock illegal sand mining in the Coleroon basin in his village has caused damage to the environment.

The Tamil Nadu government and the Collector should be directed to stop the illegal mining immediately and take steps to improve the groundwater level to facilitate irrigation, he has said.

M. Nagarajan of Sullankudi said that for the past five generations, the village, which had 500 families, had been producing crops, with three yields a year. The village depended on the river for drinking water. Some persons, without permission, had been mining sand in the river basin from 2010. They had already excavated sand at Thirumanoor, Vizhupanangkurichi and Vadugar Palayam and now moved to Sullankudi. Owing to illegal mining, the groundwater, which was available at 25 feet in his village, had fallen to 150-175 feet, rendering pumpsets useless. Nearly 2,000 loads of sand were being removed a day.

From the Collector’s reply to a question under the Right to Information Act, it emerged that the sand mining was illegal. Excavators and earth movers were being used for mining in the river itself. The mining went up to 9-15 metres from the level of the riverbed.

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