Granite mining scam: Tamil Nadu police raid Union fertiliser minister’s son’s company

He along with others grabbed the land of people belonging to backward caste and used it to store mined granite

By Anupam Chakravartty
Published: Friday 05 October 2012

Tamil Nadu police has raided the film production house belonging to the son of Union minister for chemicals and fertiliser, M K Alagiri in connection with the Rs 16,000 crore granite mining scam.

According to a report filed by the collector of Madurai district, U Sagayam, Dayanidhi Durai’s firm along with 60 other persons owning various granite firms grabbed lands reserved for the backward Adi Dravida caste and filled up water bodies there to store illegally mined granite from the district.

Panchami lands were allocated to the Adi Dravidas during the British rule. According to the regulations, the beneficiary is allowed only to transfer his land title to another of the same caste. However, mining companies encroached upon this land by manipulating land records.

According to a Right to Information query by S Karuppiah, joint secretary of Dalit Liberation Movement, a peoples’ movement to secure rights for the socially backward classes, around 303 hectares (ha) out of 1,011 ha in Melur Taluka which have been encroached by granite mining companies are Panchami land. These include land in villages like Moorkapatti, Tharuvathavur, Kovailpatti, Thuvarankulam, Keelavalavu and Keelaiyur.

The scam came into light after a local newspaper, Deenabhumi, published articles in January, giving estimates of the extent of illegal mining in the state. The newspaper said that granite worth Rs two crores was shipped out from the district every day. Sagayam, however, denied this in his report submitted in June, stating that it was impossible to send granite in such huge quantities.
The collector’s report estimated the loss to the exchequer due to granite mining in the district at Rs 15,721 crores. However, with state’s mining and geological department forming 20-odd teams to start the assessment of the areas being mined by the accused firms, officials say that the loss to exchequer could go well beyond Rs 1 lakh crores as illegal mining of granite has been happening since past 15 to 20 years. Sources within the government say that every successive government bribed the local administration and encroached upon agricultural lands to stock up mined granite for exports. The report further stated that an earlier action against illegal mining could not be taken as local officials were scared to deal with politically connected mining companies.

While the Madurai police has been able to nab 55 persons in connection of the scam, the bigwigs of the mining scam continue elude the police dragnet. The anti-corruption bureau of the police filed a chargesheet against the Alagiri’s son on September 26.

Durai then sought a bail on the grounds that he was no longer a partner with the firm, Olympus Granites. But police officials found that the accused had already banked profits from the mining company. The Madras High Court on October 1 rejected anticipatory bail plea of Durai.

Last week, owner of PRP Exports, one of the biggest granite mining companies of south India, P R Palanichamy, surrendered before the police. According to a source in Tamil Nadu, PRP Exports illegally sent mined granite to at least 40 countries, including Australia and Indonesia. Recently, PRP exports started selling the granite stocks to the local builders. According to the report of the collector a team of the local mining department officials seized Rs 3.59 crores worth of granite on a single inspection round from PRP Exports' illegal quarry near Keelaiyur village in the district.


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