Staff Reporter

Following sand quarrying in Kottakudi river

“Collector must give assistance to experts”

MADURAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the formation of a two-member expert committee to study ecological effects owing to sand quarrying on the Kottakudi river flowing through Bodinayakanur in Theni district.

Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition filed before the Madurai Bench, Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and S. Palanivelu directed the Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli to depute two professors specialised in Groundwater Geophysics and Geology and Mining to conduct the study.

The Theni Collector was directed to provide all assistance to the experts, including transportation, boarding, lodging and such other facilities required by them for inspecting the quarry site.

“It shall be highly appreciated if the experts submit their report within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order,” the Judges said.

The petitioner, Anaithu Mahasul Vivasayigal and Kuthakaitharargal Nala Sangam (All Agriculturalists and Lease Holders’ Association), said that the Kottakudi river flows from Munnar in Kerala to Vaigai dam.

The river water is stored in Anaipillayar Kovil dam also known as Raja Vaikkal Anaicut at Bodinayakanur.

A supply channel on the right flank of the anaicut fills five tanks that irrigate around 1750 acres of agricultural land.

But, in recent days, government officials “in collusion with some politicians” were quarrying sand near the Anaipillayar Kovil dam causing severe ecological damage, the petitioner’s counsel, M. Ajmal Khan, said. Refuting the allegations, Additional Advocate General S. Ramasamy submitted that quarrying was being carried out by the Public Works Department to desilt the river.

In his counter affidavit, the Executive Engineer of Manjalar Basin Division, said: “Quarrying of sand is only in the interest of the farming community and the local people of Bodinayakanur town.”

He also said that the Collector had accorded approval for operating the quarry in upstream of the anaicut after eliciting opinion from Revenue Department, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board and Assistant Director of Mines and Minerals.

Only the top layer for a depth of one metre of sand deposited over the years was being removed, he added.

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