The Madras High Court Bench here has dismissed a couple of public interest litigation petitions filed last year alleging indiscriminate mining of sand from Tamirabharani riverbed in the guise of desilting Srivaikundam check dam in Thoothukudi district on the basis of the permission granted by National Green Tribunal (NGT).
A Division Bench of Justices S. Nagamuthu and M.V. Muralidaran dismissed the petitions filed by K. Ulagu Thevar and P. Arumuga Nainar after recording the statement of Special Government Pleader M. Govindan that the issue was seized of by the NGT which had modified the permission granted for desilting and ordered maintenance of status quo.
The Bench dismissed both the petitions through separate orders after observing that the petitioners would have to work out their remedy only before the tribunal.
In his petition, Mr. Nainar had alleged that around 4,500 tonnes of sand had been mined from the riverbed illegally in the guise of desilting and hence there was a necessity to form a monitoring committee.
Pointing out that the High Court, while banning mechanised sand mining from Tamirabharani for a period of five years in 2010, had ordered constitution of a State-Level Monitoring Committee for supervising river sand mining, the petitioner had sought a direction to the State Government to establish such a committee at the earliest.
The issue of desilting Srivaikundam check dam had led to division of opinion between various political parties in the State last year with the ruling party accusing Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko of having approached the NGT and obtained an order to desilt the 143-year-old dam. However, Seeman of the Naam Tamilar Katchi and many others filed PIL petitions in the High Court Bench to quash a notification issued by Thoothukudi Collector on July 8, 2015 for desilting the check dam on the basis of the permission granted by the NGT. He claimed that the dam should be desilted naturally by opening up the sulices.
Supporting him, R. Nallakannu, senior leader of Communist Party of India, opposed the desilting works and asserted that river sand was being mined in the guise of desiltation.
Then, the High Court had suggested that the petitioners should approach the NGT and seek modification of the order granting permission for desilting.