Madurai (TN), Mar 23 (PTI) The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Saturday expressed concern over illegal mining of natural wealth, including sand, and directed officials to get details of action taken against those allowing it and how many people had been booked.
Justices N Kirubakran and S S Sundar gave the directive on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking action against illegal mining in Dindigul district and sought to know the designation of the officials against whom the Goondas Act had been invoked for allegedly conniving with the illegal miners.
The court said a report on the action taken should be submitted to it at the next hearing on April 21.
The judges wanted to know about the provisions invoked against illegal mining and transporting sand while registering the FIR, and asked how money had been collected as fine for such activity in the last 10 years.
They asked if the fine was levied or cost of the minerals was recovered.
The judges then directed the government to collect Rs 75 lakh from the officials for allowing illegal mining in unapproved areas in Sitharevu village in Attur area of Dindigul district.
Stating that the case pertaining to the district was only the tip of the iceberg, the judges said illegal mining of sand and blue metal had become a regular feature in Tamil Nadu.
"It is being said that the officials were making unjust enrichments out of illegal acts either on their own or on instructions. The court is convinced that there was a failure on the part of the officials and with their connivance illegal mining was on," the judges said.
The high court said departmental action needed to be taken against the officials.
The judges noted that though the court had directed the officials to slap the Goondas Act on the officials, it was not known whether the action was ever taken.
They said the report submitted by the advocate commissioner indicated mining of lake sand had been done and about 10,000 cubic metres of gravel had been removed from the prohibited areas.
Though the revenue inspector, village administrative office and tehsildar and the deputy tehsildar were supposed to act, they had not done so, the judges said.
The photographs submitted by the petitioner also showed that illegal mining had been done on a large scale, they said, posting the matter for further hearing next month. PTI SSN NVG APR