Safety audit to be conducted in stone quarries across Tamil Nadu

The quarry had been operating illegally despite a closure notice having been issued in April last year.

The quarry had been operating illegally despite a closure notice having been issued in April last year.

A comprehensive safety audit will be conducted in the 5,000-odd stone quarries across Tamil Nadu to curb mining violations and accidents similar to the one that took place in a stone quarry at Adaimithippaankulam, Revenue Secretary Kumar Jayant said on Monday.

Mr. Jayant, who inspected the accident site, told journalists that the audit would be conducted in all quarries to check if the safety norms were being followed scrupulously. The inspections would also fix violations, if any.

Based on the findings of the inspections, corrective measures would be taken against the violators, besides action against those who failed to enforce the law.

Director of Mining and Geology Nirmal Raj admitted that violations did take place in the quarry where the accident took place. “Following violations in the mining of stones, a closure notice was issued to the stone quarry management in April last year, asking them to suspend all operations. However, they illegally operated the quarry, which led to the accident,” he said.

When asked if action would be taken against the Assistant Director of Mines, Tirunelveli, for failing to close the quarry, he said, “It cannot be discussed in the press meet.”

 When asked about the transport of hundreds of loads of sand, M-sand, stones, etc. to Kerala every day, as these minor minerals are sold at exorbitant prices in the neighbouring State, the official said the State government was collecting 20% tax for the sale of these minerals outside Tamil Nadu, while only 10% tax was collected for local sale.

On the ‘permitted depth’ in stone quarries, he said permission would usually be given based on the ‘mining plan’ for each project, and mining could be done up to 5 meters above groundwater level in that particular place.

Tirunelveli Collector V. Vishnu said all 52 stone quarries in the district would be inspected in the next two months. Six quarries near the Western Ghats in the district were raided and the erring quarries were sealed, he said.

 When complaints of violations in the stone quarries at Irukkanthurai near Koodankulam surfaced recently, Mr. Vishnu ordered an inspection. Since the survey unearthed several violations, a hefty fine was imposed on the licensee before the mining licence was cancelled.

 “We will conduct similar inspections with drones and other modern gadgets to ascertain violations, if any, in the mining of stones. If violations are proved, action will be taken,” Mr. Vishnu said.

Superintendent of Police P. Saravanan said the quarry licence-holder Sankaranarayanan and manager Sebastian had been detained, while a hunt was on for quarry operator Selvaraj, alias ‘Chamber’ Selvaraj, and his son Kumar.

When asked if the State government, like neighbouring Kerala, would implement stringent legal provisions to check mineral mining in Tamil Nadu and the smuggling of minerals to other States, Minister for Backward Classes Welfare R.S. Rajakannappan said it was up to the Chief Minister to decide.

Speaker M. Appavu, Tirunelveli MP S. Gnanathiraviam, Palayamkottai MLA M. Abdul Wahab, Mayor P.M. Saravanan, Deputy Mayor K.R. Raju and district panchayat chairman V.S.R. Jegadeesh were present on the occasion.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 4:17:45 am |