Tamil Nadu

State forms three panels to reassess stocked minerals

Concerned over reports of illegal transport of beach sand minerals from sealed premises, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to form three district-level committees for re-assessment of the minerals “stocked and sealed” at various places in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari districts.

The quantity of the minerals in question, as assessed by senior civil servant Satyabrata Sahoo during 2017-18, is 1.55 crore tonnes.

A 14-member committee has been approved for Tiruneveli under the coordination of P. Saravanan, Regional Joint Director of Geology and Mining, Tiruchi; a 10-member committee for Thoothukudi with V. Aruna, Joint Director, Chennai, as the coordinator; and a four-member committee for Kanniyakumari. Barring a few officials from Madurai, Sivaganga and Dindigul, the committees do not have those who are serving in other southern districts, according to an order issued by the Industries Department early this week. The committees have been given one month to submit their reports.

The order directed the three Collectors to have CCTVs installed on all the sealed premises where the beach sand minerals had been stocked or stored and give “complete police protection” to sealed or non-sealed godowns having the minerals.

In a July 27 communication, Tiruneveli Collector V. Vishnu informed the government that in the light of the reports, he had proposed the constitution of a committee, comprising representatives from different departments, for each of seven villages where the minerals had been kept.

A month later, Thoothukudi Collector K. Senthil Raj brought to the notice of the government the interception of 5 vehicles that transported ilmenite ore to a company in the SIPCOT complex. Around the same time, Director of Geology and Mining L. Nirmal Raj reported to the government that complaints had been received about the sealed premises in Tiruneveli and Thoothukudi districts having been broken open and the minerals illegally transported to another company in Thoothukudi for the production of titanium dioxide.

Capturing all the details, the Industries Department’s order recalled that the government, through orders issued in August and September 2013, banned mining and transport of such minerals as garnet, ilmenite, rutile, zircon and sillimanite in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari, Madurai and Tiruchi districts. In April 2017, as a follow-up to the directions of the Madras High Court, the government set up a special team, led by Mr. Sahoo, for assessment of the minerals stored at various places of the three districts. A year later, Mr. Sahoo submitted a “comprehensive report” to the High Court.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 3:04:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/state-forms-three-panels-to-reassess-stocked-minerals/article36660653.ece

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