Activists seek halt to degradation of rivers

Environment activists here are seeking an immediate halt to the degradation due to sand mining in the rivers as mining continues in violation of norms stipulated by the Madras High Court.

According to activists, three major violations are obvious. Loading contractors retained by the Public Works Department were breaching the rules governing number of excavators to be deployed in a quarry; duration of quarrying and quantum of sand being transported out of the quarry to second sales points from where the private truckers purchase.

The loading contractors were deploying at least six excavators in each of the designated reaches on Cauvery river bed to quarry and load sand on to contracted trucks, a visit to the sites revealed.

In Lalapet and Rajendram areas, even from the roadside, one could see multiple excavators scooping and loading sand on to the tippers.

“The courts have mandated that miners could deploy only one excavator for scooping sand and another for loading and it is atrocious that 10 excavators are working in full public view at any given time,’’ said R. Nandakumar, an advocate and activist against rampant sand mining for two decades now.

Rampant quarrying

“Also quarrying must be taken up only between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. But, there is prolonged quarrying,” he said. In fact, thetranshipment from quarries to the second sales points is intense during the wee hours as official monitoring is scarce at this time.

“Trucks do multiple trips from the quarries to the second sales points day and night. While they are sanctioned 300 cubic feet per load, they invariably carry double the quantity,’’ contended another social activist Veera Thiyagarajan of Kulithalai.

Even during day time, contracted trucks claiming to operate ‘on PWD duty’ and filled to the brim with freshly quarried sand make a beeline to the sales points.

When contacted, PWD officials said there were four sand quarries in operation in the district but refused to reveal the number of second sales points.

Unwilling to go on record, the PWD officials denied irregularities at the quarries.

Asked why more than sanctioned excavators were at work, they assured to look into the matter.

On charges of overloading, the PWD officials said efforts were on to monitor quarries round the clock and any violation would be dealt with firmly.

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