Special Correspondent

To submit a report on the extent of pollution, water availability to High Court

3 members on the expert committee

Palar ravaged by sand mining: PILs

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has formed a three-member expert committee to inspect sand quarries in three villages along the river Palar. It will submit a report on the extent of pollution and water availability to the court.

The First Bench comprising Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar was passing orders on three public interest litigations filed by former heads of civic bodies in the area opposing indiscriminate quarrying of sand in the villages of Vilagam, Easur and Budhur in Kancheepuram district.

The committee shall comprise the Executive Engineer in the groundwater division of the Public Works Department, besides Annuthoman, assistant professor from the Centre for Water Resources, Anna University; and C. Mohandoss, professor and Head of the Department of Geo-Information at the Anna University.

The members shall inspect the quarries and submit a report on whether illicit sand quarrying was polluting the Palar and causing difficulties to the local people, who are dependent on its water for drinking and agriculture, the order read.

The petitioners – V.K. Govindan, V.K. Ganapathy and Neelambal Govindarajan – said Palar had already been ravaged by rampant illicit sand mining and that the carrying capacity of the river had been considerably weakened. Endangering the regenerative capacity of the river to recharge groundwater in the region would adversely affect the interests of farmers and residents, it said.

Vilagam case

In the case of Vilagam, the court had already granted interim injunction restraining the authorities from operating the quarry in 2005. When the order was violated a contempt petition was filed. While passing orders on the contempt petitions, the court had directed the Revenue Divisional Officers to ensure proper compliance of court orders.

In the case of Budur and Easur, the petitioners opposed formation of roads as the increased movement of heavy vehicles posed a threat to the lives of villagers. As an order of interim injunction, granted in 2006, was violated, contempt proceedings were initiated by the petitioners.