HC orders CB-CID probe into illegal sand quarrying case involving government officials

Taking into account that several government officials from departments like revenue, police, agriculture and mining facilitated illegal sand quarrying in Tirunelveli district, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ordered a CB-CID probe into the case.

It was hearing a batch of petitions that sought direction to the authorities to restrain Manuvel George, a resident of Kerala, from misusing the quarry licence that was granted to him. The petitioners alleged that he was involved in illegal sand theft.

Manuvel George had been granted licence for storing and processing rough stone, m-sand, gravel and crusher dust in Kallidaikurichi, Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district. But, he had also indulged in illegal sand quarrying in the adjacent land including the Vandala Odai dam.

A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi took cognisance of the fact that with the connivance of the local revenue and police officials, Manuvel George had been transporting sand and exploiting it for commercial purposes.

The State submitted that Tahsildar of Ambasamudram had inspected the site and the illegal activities were ascertained. Subsequently, the Sub-Collector of Cheranmahadevi inspected the site and levied a penalty to the tune of ₹ 9.5 crore.

The registration certificate issued in favour of Manuvel George was cancelled and a criminal case was registered against him. It was said that government officials facilitated the accused in carrying out the illegal activities.

The court took note of the fact that several transit passes that were issued by the Mines Department, with and without signatures, and hologram stickers were seized. A register that contained the details of amounts distributed to various officials were also seized.

The judges directed the CB-CID to complete the investigation in the case as expeditiously as possible. The court observed that once a permission / licence was granted for quarrying, it is obligatory on the part of the authorities to put in a proper / effective monitoring mechanism. There must be regular inspection or surprise inspection to find out whether the conditions of the permission / licence were strictly complied with. The authorities should explore the possibility of installing CCTV cameras in all quarrying / storage sites that had the permission.

A monitoring unit should be assigned at the Taluk, District and State Levels. If such actions were taken by the authorities, coupled with regular, periodical and surprise inspections, these kinds of illegal activities would have been abated, the judges said.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 10:38:02 PM |

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