Tamil Nadu

T.N. sand mining: PWD permit to be extended

Vital resource: Nearly 80% of the State’s output of river sand comes from quarries on the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers in Karur and Tiruchi districts. File photo   | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

The Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has recommended a three-year extension of the Environmental Clearance (EC) given to the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department for river sand mining on the Cauvery bed in Tiruchi and Karur.

The project involves mining more than 30 lakh cubic metres of river sand in the upstream and downstream areas of the Kattalai Bed Regulator on the Cauvery.

In May 2015, the Public Works Department was given the EC for the project with a validity of three years.

The Department approached the Committee for an extension citing its inability to mine the requisite quantity of sand “due to flow in the river and storage of water in the newly constructed barrage”.

The PWD submitted that the project could not be completed in three years.

The Department approached the Committee for an extension citing its inability to mine the requisite quantity of sand “due to flow in the river and storage of water in the newly constructed barrage”.

The PWD submitted that the project could not be completed in three years.

In its application, it said the project, spread over 196.25 hectares of Sriramasamuthiram and Silaipillayaputtur villages in Tiruchi and 256.06 hectares of Mayanur village in Karur district, was for mining 15.01 lakh cubic metres and 15.18 lakh cubic metres of river sand respectively. “Open cast, semi-mechanized, shallow mining on sand shoals above the river bed... [involve] no permanent or temporary change in land use,” it added.

Last year, the Department approached the Ministry seeking a clarification on the validity of the EC — whether it was effective from the date of issuance (May 14, 2015) or the date of commencement of the mining operations (January 1, 2016). The Ministry did not provide any written clarification and the PWD submitted before the EAC that in the absence of any response, it understood the validity of the EC to be from the date of commencement of operations.

“The Committee is of the view that generally validity of EC is considered from the date of issuance of EC letter but project proponent (PWD) has approached the Ministry well within the validity of EC — that is, before May 13, 2018, for clarification. Non-responsiveness of Ministry has culminated in delay in application for extension and the Committee may consider the case in this background,” the EAC said.

The EAC further noted that the project “helps in augmentation of water-holding capacity in a water-scarce area of Tamil Nadu”. The Committee recommended extension of the EC for three years from the date of issuance of the letter by the Ministry. “Ministry has to decide on the date of validity of the existing EC and consequential acceptance of the application for extension of validity,” the Committee said.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:20:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sand-mining-pwd-permit-to-be-extended/article29495916.ece

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