The Division Bench comprising Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadevan before whom the plea came up ordered notice and posted the case to March 2 for further hearing.
M Appavu and ex- MLA of Radhapuram in Tirunelveli submitted that based on a PIL moved in 2002 about how illegal sand quarrying has led to rivers and water bodies turning dry thereby resulting in a depleting water table, the State Government was directed to constitute an expert committee consisting of geologists, environmentalists and scientist to study the impact of sand quarrying on river and river beds.
Based on this, the said high level committee, after an extensive tour of the State had recommended various measures for regulation of sand mining in the State which led to a Government Order being issued in 2003. This had led to all existing leases for sand quarrying being made ineffective and the Government taking over the process of quarrying sand.
Along with this, another major recommendation was to encourage research programme to find alternate materials for sand. Based on this, the PWD had issued a memorandum in 2008 permitting the use of crushed sand in construction activities, he added.
Pointing out that the recommendation was not followed even by the Government since the usage of river sand continues in all construction activities, he said despite restrictions in quarrying sand, the State Government has continued to grant licence to private contractors to quarry river sands in 16 districts after getting approval from the PWD.
The plea also noted that due to this, the private contractors plunder river sand by blatantly violating all norms. Quarrying should take place only in areas earmarked for that purpose and that to only for a depth of 1 metre. Also, machineries like JCB and cranes should not be used. But failure to enforce such regulations has led to various rivers and lakes in Tamil Nadu drying up.
The petitioner also submitted that neighbouring states realising the seriousness of depleting ground water have taken steps to adopt an alternate method by encouraging the use of M-sand instead of river sand. Even in Tamil Nadu Chief Engineer Buildings had issued a circular in 2012 for the use of M-sand and subsidy schemes for buying machines used for production of M-sand was offered. But till date, the exploitation of river sand continues, said the petitioner.
Order of Palani temple on 60 years age limit for head shavers overturned
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court overturned the order of Palani Murugan Temple administration by banning people over 60 years who are deployed for tonsuring the heads of devotees. Petitioner, Kuppuraj (67), from Palani, in his petition, claimed that he had worked as a barber at Palani Murugan Temple where he was involved in tonsuring devotees. During Thai Poosam, 310 workers over 60 years were involved in tonsuring. It was feared that hands of people over 60 years might shiver causing injuries to heads of devotees.
Hence the order of Palani Murugan Temple management allowing people of over 60 years to tonsure the head of devotees should be revoked prayed the petitioner. Counsel of temple management claimed that to manage crowds people over 60 years were employed only temporarily. In the final order on Thursday Judges claimed that since 1989 the barbers attached to the temple had been demanding the temple management to extend the age limit of 60 for them but it was not heeded. Then why was the age limit relaxed this year questioned the Judges. Hence the order of Temple Management allowing people of over 60 years to tonsure the devotees, even temporarily, is banned and Temple Management should stick to the permanent order, said the Judges.