Madras HC refuses to stay notices on miners; TN to recover Rs 5K cr from defaulters

Further, a notice for personal hearing was also served on those who did not provide the explanation initially.
Beach sand mining has been banned in the state since 2013
Beach sand mining has been banned in the state since 2013(File photo)

THOOTHUKUDI: With the Madras High Court refusing to stay the show cause notices served to beach sand mining lease holders over the alleged illicit mining of beach sand minerals (BSM) in Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi, the government is keen on recovering a penalty of `5,035.42 crore from the defaulters.

Earlier this year, the Department of Geology and Mines had issued two sets of notices to the beach sand miners, who held 64 mining leases in the state over illicit mining of BSM like ilmenite, garnet, rutile, leucoxene, zircon, monazite and sillimanite, based on the report by IAS officer Gagandeep Singh Bedi and the findings of amicus curiae.

It may be noted that beach sand mining has been banned in the state since 2013, following the formation of the Gagandeep Singh Bedi committee which submitted its report to the high court in 2017. While the notices served for the pre-ban period (2000-2013) sought explanation to recover Rs 3032.77 crore, the notices for violations during the post-ban period (2013-2016) aimed at recovering Rs 2,002.65 crore towards royalty and cost of minerals mined and transported illegally. Further, a notice for personal hearing was also served on those who did not provide the explanation initially.

Some of the miners had objected to the notices stating that a batch of cases against the Bedi committee report and amicus curiae findings were pending before the high court, while others sought time to submit their explanations. “The notices stood invalid as cases challenging the Bedi report is pending before the court,” said a representative of a private beach sand miner.

Subsequently, the sand miners approached the court seeking to stay the notices, but the court refused, giving a leeway for the state to take action. According to officials, the government is expected to take steps to recover Rs 5,035.42 crore from the defaulters, and confiscate the BSM, processed minerals and raw sand stored in godowns.

The state had previously informed the court that the minerals stocked at godowns in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari could be handed over to the IREL (India) in Manavalakurichi, the only licensee to handle BSM after the centre banned all private players from mining beach sand in 2019, officials added.

Meanwhile, a senior bureaucrat told TNIE that the court did not impose any restrictions on the show cause notices and directed the miners to appear for personal hearing. “Collectors of the three districts are the deciding authority, who will issue the orders (on the recovery), and accordingly action will be taken” he said.

Federation of Indian Placer Mineral Industries President Dr D Daya Devadas said the DMK government must expedite the recovery process, and added that the sum of Rs 5,000 crore was meagre when compared to the quantum of illicit mining carried out by the miners along the coasts of the three districts.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com