Chief Minister Jayalalithaa asserted in the Assembly on Tuesday that she was determined to ensure that there was neither any illegal exploitation of precious natural resources nor over-exploitation of such minerals beyond the permitted norms of the government.
Explaining her government’s position on the issue of quarrying of beach minerals, Ms Jayalalithaa said, “the economic development of a country depends on efficient use of natural resources including minerals, water, land, forest and sources of energy.”Replying to a query raised by Alagapuram R. Mohan Raj (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) who wanted to know the steps taken to prevent illegal mining of river sand and major minerals, Ms Jayalalithaa said her government would take a policy decision on major minerals based on a report to be submitted by a special team headed by Revenue Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi on irregularities in various quarries of the minerals. Giving an account of various steps taken by her government in the last few months, she said she had ordered the team to study 71 lease areas in four districts – Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Tiruchi and Madurai – which had been given to private firms for mining of beach minerals and also directed that the functioning of the quarries be suspended. The team had begun its work in Tirunelveli on October 17.
Referring to an earlier enquiry in the Tuticorin district, she recalled that on August 6, the District Collector concerned, in his letter [to the government], referred to irregularities in mining of garnet, ilmenite, rutile and monosite. Subsequent to his suggestion for a probe, Commissioner of Geology and Mines, on August 8, also recommended the same to the government.
A special team was formed headed by Mr. Bedi to study six lease areas in Tuticorin. It gave its report on September 17 which the government was studying.
The current enquiry in the four districts covered mining of garnet, ilmenite, monosite, zircon, leucoxene, sillimanite, rutile.
“We have decided to take further action after the committee completed its probe in all quarries,” she said.
Referring to a number of cases in the Madras High Court on the matter including a review petition filed in the Madurai Bench, the Chief Minister said the cases had been grouped and transferred to the Division Bench of the High Court here.