Illegal mining at Ariyalur under lens

The recent action taken by RDO Ramakrishnan against two VAOs has turned the spotlight on indiscriminate, illegal limestone mining in Ariyalur district.

Published: 01st October 2022 04:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2022 04:26 AM   |  A+A-

The recent action taken by RDO Ramakrishnan against two VAOs has once again brought the issue into discussion | Expres

Express News Service

ARIYALUR:  The recent action taken by RDO Ramakrishnan against two VAOs has turned the spotlight on indiscriminate, illegal limestone mining in Ariyalur district. The issue, which has been taken up by activists for a long time, is once again in discussion.

According to sources, Ariyalur is known as a limestone-rich district. There are nine cement factories in the district, which includes one belonging to the government. Illegal mining has allegedly been going on in various places like Panangur, Karuppur Senapathy, Reddipalayam, Alanthuraiyarkattalai, Periyathirukkonam, Kattupringiam, Unjini, Pudupalayam and Thalavai. It may be noted that 11 lorries, which were carrying illegally-mined limestone near Melapalur, were stopped during a vehicle check by Melapalur VAO George Washington and Poondi VAO Prabhakaran last week.

However, the drivers fled the scene. The two VAOs alerted Ariyalur RDO Ramakrishnan and he, in turn, told them to file a complaint at Keezhapalur police station and hand over the lorries to them. But, a complaint filed merely mentioned that the lorry was carrying a load beyond the permitted level and without a cover. The drivers "were summoned, warned and let off with a fine," and the vehicles were released. Later, Ramakrishnan inquired into the matter and learnt that the mining had been carried out without permission. Alleging dereliction of duty, Ramakrishnan suspended the two VAOs.

A case was registered against five people for mining limestone without permission. With the news garnering attention, activists have, once again, urged the authorities to realise the amount of damage such mining is doing to ecology. They have demanded that the government set up a new commission of inquiry headed by an IAS officer to look into the matter.

Speaking to TNIE, V Muthukumaran, an advocate from Ariyalur, said, "Illegal mining is happening in various villages of the district. Some private players get permission to carry out mining on 10-30 acres of land, but encroach upon Poramboke land, canals and small ponds. This is causing a huge amount of loss to the government. We have submitted petitions to the Ariyalur minerals department several times, alleging illegal mining and mining beyond the permitted depth.

However, nothing has been done to stop all this illegal activity. A probe committee headed by an IAS officer should be set up without further delay." Environment activist T Elavarasan said, "Authorities grant permission for mining in Arungal village near the Karaivetti bird sanctuary. Explosions at the mines reduce the arrival of birds. Various rules are being violated with impunity and these mines also pollute the air, affecting people in the vicinity." When contacted, assistant director of mines department in Ariyalur R Priya said, "We are now getting complaints about illegal mining and are inspecting places."

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