Says her government will not tolerate destruction of riverbeds
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday said her government would deal sternly with anti-social elements involved in illegal sand quarrying in the State.
“My government will not tolerate destruction of riverbeds by anti-social elements. Riverbeds, the nature's gift, remain a source of water for drinking and irrigational purposes. My government will deal sand smugglers with an iron hand” she said in a statement.
The Chief Minister reaction comes in the wake of complaints that sand smugglers had tried to strangulate and bury a village assistant Rajendran on the riverbed in Madura Jayapuram in Tirupattur taluk in Vellore district, when he took action against illegal sand quarrying.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the owner of the tractor, Tirupathi, and five persons had used abusive language and attacked Mr. Rajendran.
“They strangulated Rajendran and tried to bury him in the sand. It was noticed by a girl who had gone there to dump the garbage and her cry drew the attention of the local people. Sand smugglers fled the spot when people rushed there. Revenue Inspector of Ammanankoil and Village Administrative Officer had seized the vehicles,” the Chief Minister said.
Police filed a case against Tirupathi and five others and arrested one person. Tirupathi and Govindarajan had surrendered before a court and they were being interrogated.
The police were in pursuit of others who were involved in the incident.
The Chief Minister said her previous government, following a High Court order, took over sand quarrying after constituting an expert committee to prevent indiscriminate sand quarrying and to protect water sources and to ensure uninterrupted supply of sand to people.
She alleged that the change of government in 2006 resulted in indiscriminate sand quarrying and the riverbeds in the State bore the brunt. It led to the Madras High Court issuing a direction, banning sand quarrying in Tamiraparani for five years.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said after the AIADMK came to power in 2011, she had directed district administration to take stringent action against sand smugglers. The Revenue department in coordination with the police was closely monitoring the situation.
Stating that in one year, her government had filed 4,173 cases and arrested 5,033 persons, the Chief Minister said officials seized 5,501 vehicles and collected around Rs. 14 crore as fine.
“Smuggling of sand to neighbouring States has been completely prevented. Revenue from sand quarrying in the last five years of the DMK government was only Rs. 603 crore.
“But, in the last one year alone, we generated Rs. 197 crore despite a ban on quarrying on Tamiraparani riverbed. It will explain how sand smuggling has been controlled in the State,” she said.