CHENNAI: Villagers of Kandaneri situated on the banks of the Palar river in Vellore district alleged that an illegal sand quarry functioning there against government norms has left their village high and dry.
The quarrying, villagers say, has been going on in spite of an order issued by the Madras High Court on February 17, which sought a report from the District Collector on the irregularities.
A PIL representing the people of 45 villages near Anaicut was filed by one of the villagers, Sekar, after which the Madras HC passed the order, according to advocate Shobana Krishnamurthy who appeared on behalf of the villagers.
The villagers said the sandminers had the backing of politically powerful people. “When our villagers demanded an answer, the workers there threatened us,” S.Gowri, a resident of Kanadaneri, told mediapersons at an interaction organised by the Satta Panchayat Iyakkam (SPI) on Wednesday.
According to Siva Elango, president, SPI, several norms were flouted in quarrying sand on the riverbed. “The government allows only three feet of quarrying and no machinery is supposed to be used. But, when you go there, a JCB machine is always seen and they have dug as deep as 20 feet,” Siva Elango said.
Villagers said that government officials including their panchayat leader were hand in gloves with the culprits. A video showing the panchayat leader distributing cash from a sack to villagers to keep silent was also screened during the interaction.
“He claimed that the cash was meant for flood relief. But, when we questioned him about the quarrying during the gram sabha meeting, he said the villagers received cash for not bringing the issue up,” another villager requesting anonymity said.
The villagers have requested government intervention to put a stop to quarrying activities there.