No brick kiln in Thadagam valley obtained permit from Geology and Mining Dept., reveals RTI document

None of the brick kilns operating in five village panchayats that are part of Thadagam valley in Coimbatore district had obtained permission for their operations from the Department of Geology and Mining, a document accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed.

In reply to queries raised by activist S. Ganesh of Chinnathadagam, the Geology and Mining Department stated that it had not accorded permits to any of the brick kilns that were operational at Chinna Thadagam, Nanjundapuram, Veerapandi, Pannimadai and Somaiyampalayam village panchayats.

However, the RTI document said that the brick kilns were paying annual fees to the Department.

As per the document, applications submitted by some of the brick kilns to the Department were forwarded to other departments for further clearances.

There are close to 200 brick kilns operating in the valley, according to activists who are demanding closure of units that are operating without proper permits from various departments and local bodies.

“As per an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), soil for brick making can only be dug from a land that is more than one hectare in size (2.47 acre). However, this norm is not followed at many places in the valley. NGT also says that there should be a 500 metre gap between two mining sites. However, the Mining and Geology Department claims ignorance of this norm in the RTI reply,” said Mr. Ganesh.

The RTI document also says that the Department did not issue permits for the use of excavators, trucks and tractors for mining and transportation of red earth for brick making in the five panchayats. To a query on the depth up to which red earth can be mined from a patta land, the Department replied that mining could be done without affecting agriculture activity as per the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules 1959.

However, the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules 1959 states that “Quarrying shall be done for an optimum depth to be specified by the District Collector so that the land shall be restored to a state fit for cultivation”. At some places, red earth had been dug beyond a depth of 50 metres, Mr. Ganesh said.

According to farmer turned activist T.M.S. Rajendran, the mining was happening in Nanjundapuram, Chinna Thadagam, Veerapandi and Somaiyampalayam that are listed as hill areas as per an annexure to the Government Order 49 dated March 24, 2003 on Hill Area Conservation Authority. “However, the RTI reply says that the Geology and Mining Department did not give permits for mining in the four places,” Mr. Rajendran pointed out.

In a report in September last year, The Hindu had exposed that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had not issued permits to any of the brick kilns in Thadagam valley. Mr. Rajendran said that an online complaint was filed to the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday after the Thadagam police failed to register a case when he and his son complained that red earth was dug and transported from a land owned by the family without their permission.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 7:20:37 AM |

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