Halting mining operations along the coast in Thoothukudi, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday formed a special team to ascertain illicit mining, if any, by the six lessees of minerals - Garnet, Ilmenite and Rutile - in the district.
The district collector has been directed to put on hold operations by the six lessees and the assistant director (Mines) has been asked to stop issuance of transport permits to these lessees till the completion of the inspections of the special team is over.
The panel headed by Revenue Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi is to find out whether there is illicit mining. It has been directed to complete the inspections expeditiously and submit its report to the government within a month, a GO issued in this connection on August 8 said. The team will also consist of officers from the departments of Revenue, Environment and Forests and Geology and Mining. The committee would exercise all the powers enumerated in Section 24 of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
Collector of Tuticorin district in his letter dated August 6, informed that inspections in some of the leased areas for mining and minerals in the district were undertaken and that instances of largescale illicit mining of beach sand has been detected in respect of some.
The district collector had also reported that detailed field inspections may be undertaken by a special team consisting of the departments of Revenue, Police, Environment and Forests, Geology and Mining in connection with the illicit mining of beach minerals by various lessees. Further, the Commissioner, Geology and Mining, has recommended that mining operations in respect of these lessees could be stopped to facilitate inspections.