The State Government has completed the inspection of 28 out of the 55 granite quarries leased out to PRP Granites and PRP Exports here and found substantial material to prove illegalities in 16 of them, including one quarry that alone had caused a loss of Rs. 600 crore to the exchequer, according to Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan.
He made the submission before a Division Bench of Justice K.N. Basha and Justice P. Devadass, during the hearing of two writ appeals filed by the State challenging an order passed by a single judge on November 2 directing it to unseal the administrative buildings of the two granite firms that are under scanner in a multi-crore granite quarry scam involving many private companies.
When the Bench sought to know why the government had not complied with an interim order passed in the writ appeal on November 6 directing it to permit the private companies to draw money from their bank accounts to pay salaries and bonus to employees, the Advocate General said they did not submit the list of employees to the police.
Appearing for the two granite companies, senior counsel R. Krishnamurthy said that as on date they were not interested in pursuing that issue as it was a tedious process to accompany government officials to banks for drawing money from frozen accounts.
They were more interested in reopening the granite quarries and providing employment to the workers.
Wondering how such a submission could be made, Mr. Justice Basha said: “Not obeying the orders of this court is a very serious issue. We have to see if our order has been complied with or not. You may not have any grievance but the workers will have. Unless you give the list of workers, how will they (police) give instructions to the banks to disburse money?”
The Advocate General claimed that the two firms had been indulging in illegalities ever since they started quarrying. Collecting material to prove the charges turned out to be a laborious task despite the deployment of 300 government employees for surveying the lands and assessing the quantum mined.
He alleged that the owners of the two firms had abandoned the quarries and companies immediately after the government sprang into action.
Mr. Justice Basha asked the petitioners’ counsel: “The whole problem is you have abandoned the quarries. If you had a valid licence then why did you stop quarrying?”
The matter was adjourned to December 18 for final hearing.
The Bench adjourned to December 21 hearing on a batch of public interest litigation petitions seeking a CBI probe into the granite scam.
“One of them caused Rs. 600 crore loss to exchequer”