Suspended panchayat official held for illicit sand mining

A village panchayat secretary, who has been placed under suspension for illegally transferring money from rural local body funds to contractors, has been arrested for alleged illicit sand mining.

Police said Balakrishnan, 42, alias Balan, who was the secretary of Kasthurirengapuram panchayat near Thisaiyanvilai, was placed under suspension before the rural local body elections held last year after the village panchayat money to the tune of over ₹15 lakh was transferred illegally to the bank accounts of a few contractors. After Collector V. Vishnu came to know of the irregularity, an inquiry was conducted that led to the suspension of Balakrishnan.

Meanwhile, his wife Vazhavantha Ganapathi contested the local body election for the post of president of Kasthurirengapuram village panchayat and won.

Against this backdrop, Balakrishnan and his associate K. Sivakumar were allegedly transporting sand in a tractor from Kutti Nainarkulam Odai near Kasthurirengapuram on Sunday night. On receiving information about the illegal sand quarrying, Inspector of Thisaiyanvilai Jamal rushed to the spot and arrested them with the sand-laden vehicle.

Condemning their arrest, a section of the residents of Kasthurirengapuram blocked the main road traversing the village and detained a TNSTC bus that come to the village from Thisaiyanvilai.

After the police warned them that a case would be registered against those who detained the bus, the villagers dispersed.

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