National » Tamil Nadu

Updated: September 24, 2012 02:08 IST

Red sand quarry case against Ponmudi

A. V. Ragunathan
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Former Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudi. File photo
The Hindu
Former Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudi. File photo

Former Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudi has been booked for having committed grave violations of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concessions Act.

Cases have also been booked against his son Gowthama Sigamani and two others too, according to Superintendent of Police (Villupuram) N.Bhaskaran.

Based on a complaint filed by Vanur tahsildar Kumarabalan, legal action had been initiated against Mr Ponmudi and others. One of the accused, V. Jayachandran (55), had been taken into police custody, the SP said.

During the erstwhile Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam rule, Mr Ponmudi was holding the portfolio of Mines and Minerals too. During his tenure as Minister, Mr Ponmudi had allotted the red sand quarry at Poothurai in Vanur block to Mr Gowthama Sigamani, Rajamahendran and Mr Jayachandran.

Quoting the tahsildar’s complaint, the police officer said the lessees had violated several provisions of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concessions Act and the Mines and Minerals Act by digging deeper into the quarry than the prescribed depth.

They had been indulging in such an overexploitation of the resources from 2007 till date. For instance, the rules allow the digging of the minor minerals only up to a depth of 20 ft but the lessees went much deeper, up to 90 ft.

Thus, the lessees mined the red sand exhaustively and as per calculations, they had obtained 2,46,646 units of red sand beyond the permissible limit.

The value of the excess red sand thus scooped out of the earth was put at approximately Rs 28.37 crore.

It meant that through such irregularities and mining illegality, the lessees had caused so much of losses to the State exchequer.

Therefore, cases were booked against Mr Ponmudi and three others by invoking Sections 353 (to deter public servants from discharging their duty), 506 Part I (criminal intimidation), 406 (misappropriation) 420 (cheating) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy), along with Section 36 A of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concessions Rules, Section 4 of the Mines and Minerals Act and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The SP said that the police could arrest only Jayachandran as Mr Ponmudi and two others were not available in Villupuram. Steps had been taken to trace them, the SP added.

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