Recover loss, compensation from illegal mining operators: Madras HC

"It is only fair that a person who has indulged in illegal mining for a considerable period before being caught, should be made to pay, including for the harm done to the environment and ecology as a consequence of the illegal activities," the bench said.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to take steps to recover the loss caused by the illegal miners and quarry owners in the state and collect compensation for damaging the ecology.

A person who has indulged in illegal mining for a considerable period before being caught should be made to pay, including for the harm done to the environment, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu said.

“It will not do for the State to merely report that the illegal mining activities undertaken by certain persons have been stopped. So that it is a deterrent to future intruders, the State has to realise due compensation from the perpetrators of illegal mining, including on account of the desecration of the ecology and the biodegradation.”

“It calls for some serious action from the state and not merely a knee-jerk reaction to suddenly wake up and stop the illegal mining activities at the prodding of the court. It is only fair that a person who has indulged in illegal mining for a considerable period before being caught, should be made to pay, including for the harm done to the environment and ecology as a consequence of the illegal activities,” the bench added.

The court was passing further interim orders on a PIL petition from C Prabhu, seeking to take action against the illegal quarries in Thirupair village in Kallakurichi district and in other places.

When the matter came up Tuesday, the Industries secretary filed a status report, according to which all illegal mining activities in the area had been stopped, criminal complaints lodged against the relevant persons and further steps were contemplated to recover damages.

The bench noted that the petitioner’s complaint was that the impact to the environment as a consequence of the illegal mining activities undertaken by several persons in the locality had not been attempted to be assessed. The colossal biodegradation that was caused as a result of the illegal mining activities had neither been studied nor any person held accountable, the petitioner alleged.

Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram submitted that in addition to criminal complaints registered under Sec. 379 of the IPC, steps were being taken against those involved with illegal mining to recover the money made by them in their illegal operations and also appropriately penalise them.

The bench observed that the state’s action plan against the relevant entities should be charted out and placed before this court when the matter appears next.

“It will not do for the State to merely report that the illegal mining activities undertaken by certain persons had been stopped” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on November 2.

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