Chennai: Sand mining on Kosasthalaiyar riverbed sets off alarms

However, Express found that nearly half of the 14-acre mining site was covered in shrubbery and has only clay soil at the top.

Published: 18th June 2018 04:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th June 2018 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

Police stand guard as the Public Works Department mines sand from the Kosasthalaiyar River. (EPS | Samuel Merigala)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Tiruvallur Collector’s permission to mine sand from Kosasthalaiyar riverbed was based on reports from government departments analysing the feasibility of operations.

The Collector quotes a letter from Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board dated August 31, 2017. The permission order claims that the board had found that groundwater is available at a depth of four metres (12 feet).

Locals claim that officials from TWAD visited the site in early 2016 after the floods to take reports. However, presently water is available only at a depth of 130 feet. “Only two out of the seven 130-feet borewells in Bagasalai and Lakshmivilasapuram yield water,” claimed T Dinakaran, a former village panchayat leader of Lakshmivilasapuram, a village on the banks of the river that predominantly has Dalits. The entire village depends on groundwater for agriculture.

The executive engineer of TWAD, Tiruvallur said he wasn’t sure when the reports were taken and that he would check. However, a senior official in the Geology and Mines department confirmed that the reports were prepared in 2016.

Experts claim the floods could have had an effect in the surge in groundwater levels.

The permission order also claims that TWAD found sand to a depth of five metres at the site. However, Express found that nearly half of the 14-acre mining site was covered in shrubbery and has only clay soil at the top. Officials from the mining department also conceded that half the area was not viable for mining.

“We won’t mine the non-viable area and will make do with what we get,” said an official overseeing the mining operations. He also assured that the depth of mining would not exceed the terms mentioned to compensate. Interestingly, locals allege that sand to a depth of five metres is available along a village consisting of members of a politically stronger caste a few kilometres from the mining site.

“There is no water problem in that village. But the government will not dare to mine soil there,” said Dinakaran.

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  • Harish Shenoy

    It is not sand mining which is hurting. The politicians are mining for thorium for export and getting a huge sum for the sand which is abundant in thorium. This mining scandal is prevailing everywhere in south India.
    1 year ago reply
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