The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu on hearing a plea relating to rampant quarrying in and around Venkateshapuram and Bukkasagaram villages in Shoolagiri taluk of Krishnagiri district, said: “The matter cannot be seen in isolation. There appears to be rampant illegal quarrying all over TN. Stone-crushing units are run without adherence to any norms.”
“It is imperative that the district collectors maintain strict vigil to ensure that only permitted units function and there is no violation of the order which stayed the relaxation of norms relating to the distance between the two quarries,” the bench held.
Also, pointing out that it is the further grievance of the petitioner that even if some units operate with permits, the conditions attached to the environmental clearance are in the breach, the bench said: “The dust emanating from quarrying activities may be highly toxic and injurious to health. As the petitioner says, there are schools in the vicinity and the stone-crushing activities pose serious health hazards, particularly to children.”
Based on this, the bench directed the District Collector, Krishnagiri, to immediately look into the quarrying activities in the district, particularly in the relevant survey numbers indicated in the petition. “TNPCB should conduct surveys even at units operating with due permits to ensure that all conditions are complied with,” the bench stressed.
While seeking TNPCB and the relevant Secretary of the State overseeing mining operations to file a status report by September 20, the bench held: “Strict conditions should be imposed so that the operators are confined within demarcated areas, and, possibly, restrict the quantum of quarrying activities on the basis of some rational measure and ensure that the dust produced is under check.”