Chennai

Speed up deployment of drones to check sand mining, orders High Court

Wondering how rampant illegal mining of river sand continued across the State despite so called “effective” surveillance mechanisms put in place by the State government, the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the government to speed up the process of deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)/drones in areas prone to mining.

Justices M. Venugopal and S. Vaidyanathan also issued a slew of other directions, which included the constitution of special anti-sand smuggling teams comprising higher officials with adequate powers to handle the powerful sand mafia, which had nexus with politicians as well as the “black sheep” among government officials.

Stating that common people do not come forward to lodge complaints against illegal mining due to fear of harassment at the hands of the police, the judges said the government should think of posting “higher officials known for their impeccable integrity” in the State-level monitoring committee.

The judges came down hard on officials who do nothing more than “conduct meetings in their air-conditioned rooms” and insisted upon spot inspection by district-level as well as taluk-level monitoring committees. A suggestion was made to the State government that inspectors of police could be inducted into the taluk-level committees instead of sub inspectors of police.

“If any negligence/laissez-faire attitude/inaction is shown by the officers who are specially deputed for this task, the government is entitled to take suitable disciplinary action against them for dereliction of duties and they may be placed under suspension and necessary punishments may be imposed... which will be an eye opener for others. Similar is the case with IAS and IPS officers who may be stripped of from these posts and be posted in in-sensitive posts,” the Division Bench said.

Protecting officials

However, conscious of the threat to life and limb faced by the officials involved in preventing sand smuggling, the court said it was the bounden duty of the State to protect them.

The judges referred to a report titled ‘Sand miners make attempt on life of Deputy Tahsildar’ that appeared in The Hindu on December 15, 2018, and recalled how illegal miners attempted to kill the official when he prevented them from illegally mining sand in Ramanthapuram district.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 3:27:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/speed-up-deployment-of-drones-to-check-sand-mining-orders-high-court/article26947183.ece

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