Collector Anshul Mishra has vehemently opposed the plea for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry into the granite scam in the district on the ground that the State government was better equipped to handle the problem of illegal mining as per recommendations of the Tandon Committee constituted by the Centre in 1988.
Filing a status report before the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai, through Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan, in reply to a batch of public interest litigation petitions seeking a CBI probe, the Collector said that the enquiry conducted by him and the criminal investigation by the local police were proceeding uninfluenced by political or corporate clout of people involved in the crime.
According to Mr. Mishra, 175 granite leases had been granted to various individuals to quarry and transport granite blocks from over 43 revenue villages in the district. Most of these quarries were located in E. Mallampatti, Keezhavalavu and Keezhaiyur revenue villages of Melur taluk.
He had constituted 18 teams to conduct a comprehensive, systematic, and scientific survey of these quarries since August 2.
The Commissioner of Geology and Mining in Chennai also had deputed a special team comprising geologists and surveyors from various districts. The teams used scientific devices to ascertain the volume of granite blocks mined from the lease hold areas and non-lease hold areas and are now evaluating the market value of granite blocks stored in the stocks yards of lease hold areas.
The lessees had stockyards in various places such as Pudhuthamaraipatti, Tiruvadavur, Keezhaiyur, Keezhavalavu and E. Mallampatti and so far approximately 1.70 lakh granite blocks were measured. Further, 26 incidents of water courses having been destroyed by the private miners have to come to light and steps were under way to restore the water bodies to their original positions, the Collector said.
“It is submitted that the PRP group of companies have indulged in illegal activities of transfer of pattas (land ownership document) in their names by forgery. Most of the files relating to Keezhaiyur and Keelavalavu villages are found missing from the record room of Melur taluk office. In this regard, nine revenue officials have been suspended and severe disciplinary action is being initiated against them,” he added.
After taking the status report on file, a Division Bench comprising Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja and Justice N. Vijayaraghavan adjourned the hearing of the cases to October 10.