Former Tamil Nadu Minister held again — now for red sand quarrying

A. V. Ragunathan
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Former Minister K. Ponmudy being taken to Cuddalore Central Prison on Saturday.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
Former Minister K. Ponmudy being taken to Cuddalore Central Prison on Saturday.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

Former Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy was arrested from his residence in Villupuram town on Saturday for allegedly misusing his office during the previous DMK regime to allocate a red sand quarry to his son and five others.

He was later produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate Kayalvizhi, who remanded him to judicial custody till October 19. He has been lodged in Cuddalore Central Prison.

The arrest came a day after the Madras High Court rejected his anticipatory bail application, pointing out that that he had allotted a quarry to his son and others while in office, and that the complaints of loss to the exchequer due to excessive quarrying merited a detailed investigation.

The former Minister, who also held the Mines and Minerals portfolio in the previous regime, was booked in connection with the allotment of a red sand quarry at Poothurai village in Vanur block to his son Gowtham Sigamani and five others.

The case invokes provisions of the Tamil Nadu Minor Minerals Concession Act and Prevention of Corruption Act, besides IPC sections pertaining to criminal intimidation, conspiracy and cheating.

The police alleged that the lessees indulged in gross violations of rules governing minor minerals. After surveying the quarry, Vanur tahsildar Kumarabalan had filed a complaint with the District Crime Branch that the lessees reportedly excavated beyond permissible limits thereby illegally prospected 2,46,646 units of red sand, causing loss of Rs. 28.37 crore to the exchequer.

As Mr. Ponmudy, his son and other lessees could not be traced after lodging of the complaint special police teams were sent to Hyderabad and other places to trace them.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ponmudy and Mr. Gowtham Sigamani filed petitions before the Madras High Court seeking anticipatory bail.

Earlier on Saturday morning, Mr. Ponmudy had gone to Gingee for distributing pamphlets against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Government. He had gone to the party office at Villupuram and distributed pamphlets there too. He was arrested later.

Speaking to reporters at his residence before his arrest, Mr. Ponmudy termed the government action sheer political vendetta. After he was taken into custody by a police team led by Superintendent of Police N. Bhaskaran, Mr. Ponmudy asserted that he would find legal recourse and clear his name of all the allegations. He accused the government of being preoccupied with suppressing Opposition parties and foisting cases against their leaders.

His son, Gowtham Sigamani and co-accused Raja Mahendran and Sadanandan are yet to be traced. Three others, V. Jeyachandran, Gothakumar and Gopinath, have already been arrested in this case.

This is the second time that Mr. Ponmudy has been arrested under the present regime. He was held in a land grabbing case on August 31, 2011 and is out on bail.




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