Revenue Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi to head special team

Acting on a report from the Tuticorin Collector, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has ordered a probe by a special team into illicit mining in six lease areas, and called a halt to mining of garnet, ilmenite and rutile in the district.

A government order to this effect was issued by the Industries Department on Thursday, two days after Ashish Kumar, the Collector who inspected the mining sites and was transferred the same day, reported large-scale illicit beach sand mining by various lessees.

Special team

Revenue Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi would head the special team to verify whether there was illicit mining in the six lease areas of major minerals in Tuticorin district. It should submit its report to the government in a month. The team would consist of officers from the departments of Revenue, Environment and Forests and Geology and Mining, the order said.

The Collector should issue proceedings directing all lessees of garnet, ilmenite and rutile to stop mining operations until the inspections are over. To facilitate the probe, the Assistant director (Mines) was directed to stop giving transport permits to the six lessees.

The Industries Department order followed a recommendation from the Commissioner of Geology and Mining, who had received a letter from the District Collector on August 6, mentioning instances of large scale illicit beach sand mining.

He had also reported that detailed field inspections may be undertaken by a special team consisting of departments of revenue, police, environment and forests, geology and mining in connections with the illicit beach minerals mining by various lessees.

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