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TN government delays plan to open sand quarries following stiff opposition

- March 21, 2022

Chennai, March 21 (BPNS)

The Tamil Nadu government has for the time being delayed the opening of river sand quarries following stiff opposition from the farmers and social activists.

The state industries department had announced the opening of river sand quarries by the end of March 2022. However, farmer’s bodies and activists from different parts of the state have conducted protests against the opening of new river sand quarries citing the flood situation witnessed in various parts of the state during 2021.

Another factor that has pulled the government back from opening the sand quarries is the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that any quarries that are above 5 hectares be opened only after conducting public hearings.

It may be noted that the Tamil Nadu industries department had passed an order in January announcing the opening of 16 quarries for heavy vehicles and 21 quarries for bullock carts. Incidentally, most of these quarries spread across, Tiruchi, Karur and Ariyalur districts are above 5 hectares and this has become a hindrance as the government officials fear stiff public opposition during the hearing and may turn into law and order issues.

The Tamil Nadu agricultural farmers association has already petitioned the concerned district administrations against opening of river sand quarries.

Praveen Sitharaman, an activist and president of River Protection Forum, an organization against the destruction of rivers by illegal sand mining and based out of Karur while speaking to BPNS said, “The river sand quarries will lead to further depletion of the rivers and there is no sand left in Cauvery and Kosasthaliyar river beds from where the sand quarries are aiming to mine sand. It is to be recalled that during the last monsoon water went directly to the sea and rivers were tapering. The new river sand quarries will ultimately kill the rivers and we will fight against this exploitation of natural resources.”

He also said that the previous government had imported sand from abroad and proposed the same to the present government instead of opting for more river sand quarries.

With stiff opposition mounting against the river sand quarries, the government industries department has for the time being delayed the opening and is expecting to hold more consultations with the farmer’s associations and activists before implementing the project.