MADURAI: While many farmers affected by illegal granite quarrying kept away from the Sagayam committee allegedly due to intimidation by granite companies, the panel has extended its sitting by one more week to receive petitions from the public.
Though U Sagayam, the Legal Commissioner of the committee, after taking charge here on Wednesday announced that he would receive petitions from those affected by the multi-crore-granite scam for two days, only 109 complaints have been submitted so far.
On Thursday, ‘informers’ of granite quarries were found moving around the collectorate here, where the sitting was held, to collect information about farmers, who represented their grievances to the legal commissioner. When the committee was informed about movement of suspicious persons from a petitioner identified as P Somasundaram, the city police immediately deployed additional force in and around the venue, sources said. During the last two days, the committee received only 109 petitions, including 16 through post.
“Most of the petitions pertained to sufferings of farmers due to illegal granite quarrying and cultivable lands taken forcibly by granite companies from ryots. Some also complained of encroachment of village tanks and channels,” said official sources.
“Some complaints also accused government officials who reportedly colluded with granite firm owners and cheated the public. The committee will first study all the complaints and summon the officials for enquiry, if necessary,” claimed the sources.
Some of the petitioners said many farmers in villages wanted to present their petitions directly to Sagayam but they were not aware of the committee’s sitting.
Responding to this, the committee has decided to extend the hearing by a week and also decided to inform the villagers about its sitting through the local bodies.
Meanwhile, the Sagayam committee has surrendered nine out of 11 government officials, including geologists, mining officers, deputed by the Madurai district administration to assist the committee in its investigation. “The committee has decided to use the services of only two office assistants for its work here,” sources said.
The committee has completed the first inquiry on Friday. And they would commence the next level of inquiry from Wednesday.