Madurai: Organisations against exploitation of sand wealth from the Cauvery River have opposed Tamil Nadu government's contention that it did not require obtaining clearance from the Environment Ministry and Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) committee to quarry sand in the State.
A batch of PILs to ban sand quarrying in the river beds of Cauvery and Kollidam in Tiruchirappalli, Karur, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur had been filed in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High court.
The State government advocates submitted that the quarries were owned by the State government and were leased out to quarry operators. Under such circumstances, it was not mandatory for the State to obtain clearance and permission to grant the license for the quarry operators, they said.
States like Andhra Pradesh obtained the clearance, because the quarry sites were owned by private parties, they said.
Counsel for petitioners said clearance of EIA was mandatory even for the Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had stayed quarrying operations and the Supreme Court declined that Government's special leave plea, they contended.
"The State had to apply before the State Level Environmental Impact Analysis Committee to obtain permission for its proposal to convert the new secretariat into a hospital", they said.
They alleged that there was no mention of extent to which sand could be quarried, period for which license was granted and quantum of sand with regard to seven quarries in Karur district and at least four sites in Tiruchirappalli.
As per an environment ministry notification, mining of all minerals- whether minor or major, required clearance from the ministry, besides EIA clearance. Almost all sites extend to more than five hectares and the court should stay quarrying operations until clearance was obtained, they said.
A bench consisting of Justices R Banumathi and G M Akbar Ali, adjourned the hearing to July 26.
Various organisations including Cauvery river farmers' welfare association had filed the PILs demanding ban on indiscrminate sandmining in the river.
Story first published:
July 17, 2012 13:43 IST