HC orders notices to state, central govts

The Madras High Court on Friday ordered notices to the state and central governments on a PIL by a scientist alleging rare minerals worth at least Rs one lakh crore had been illegally mined in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu by private firms with the 'active connivance' of government officials.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 24, 2015, 00:28 AM IST

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday ordered notices to the state and central governments on a PIL by a scientist alleging rare minerals worth at least Rs one lakh crore had been illegally mined in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu by private firms with the 'active connivance' of government officials.

G Victor Rajamanickam of Priest University, Thanjavur, wanted a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh, issued notices to the governments and adjourned the matter to March 17.

The scientist alleged the state government had allowed V V Minerals in Tirunelveli district and others to export 4.55 lakh metric tons of 'placer' minerals from various areas along the coastline from September 18, 2013 to May 30, 2014, despite two Government Orders banning beach sand mining in the state.

The government had violated Atomic Energy Act by illegally including monazite and other banned minerals in 16 mining leases given to the firm, he said.

Monazite is a highly radioactive mineral and only government-owned Indian Rare Earth Limited is permitted to handle it, he said.

The scientist referred to a Gujarat G.O giving permission for placer mineral mining in 1653 hectare despite it not being there in the state. Such minerals are not available beyond Tarapur in Maharashtra, he said,adding V V Minerals was trying to gain a foothold in Gujarat coast for unknown reasons.

The PIL alleged rampant and largescale violation of payment of royalty, sales tax and excise duty, and added that there was reason to believe that huge quantities of thorium rich monazite have been clandestinely moved out of the country.

Terming it an anti-national act, he said all those responsible for including monazite in leases given to the firm should be prosecuted and punished under Atomic Energy Act.

The petitioner said though the Collectors kept issuing show cause notices to the firms, the latter closed them as if nothing serious was found. The role of the Collectors should be probed for appropriate action, he said.