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Illegal minerals mining is Rs 96,000 crore biz in Tamil Nadu

Chennai,Sep 15 (): illegal mining business  of minerals ilmenite and garnet is to the tune of Rs 96,000 crore, slightly higher than Tamil Nadu’s accumulated debt.

The kingpin is S Vaikundarajan who from a Panchayat in Tirunelveli runs an export firm VV Minerals. There is very little information on this man and his family and except for two disgruntled civil servants; no political party has asked for a probe of this company.

CPM has made a few noises on this issue. Vaikundarajan owns shares in Mavis Satcom that has stakes in Jaya TV and he has also got sizeable stocks in Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank (TMB).

A frustrated Ashwin Kumar, IAS, as a Collector of Tuticorin found that his executive power was not enough to stop the illegal mining of beach sand rich in minerals. He took the route of stating his ire through the media, for which he has been transferred.

A probe has been ordered. V Sundaram, an ex-IAS officer had sent detailed letters to all concerned in State administration about this man who has been the top exporter of minerals. He even wrote to CVC, CBI and AEC. The basis for illegal mining of minerals is the mismatch between the transport permits and the permit for the tonnage to be mined. A 10 year review put the figure at Rs 96,000 crore.

Tisayanvilai town is 65 km from Tirunelveli city and located in south Tamil Nadu. Tirunelveli halwa is famous in the South and especially in Tamil Nadu. This sweet is also used in local parlance to signify a con act. Among the varieties of Halwa, the most famous is Muscat Halwa which comes from Tisayanvilai town where Vaikundarajan runs his VV Minerals.

There is a VV Engineering college in the town too. Local people have only a fleeting glance of this millionaire who wears a white shirt and dhoti. Dr. D. Dhaya Devadas, president, Federation of Indian Placer Mineral Industries has filed a case stating that Vaikundarajan admitted in an ore panel meeting to bribing officials to get environmental clearance.

DMK when in power needled Vaikundarajan which AIADMK did not like. VV Minerals started operations in 1989. It was the first private company to get a license to mine minerals and export them. This company has national awards for its export performance. It is the first to export ilmenite and exports zircon, garnet and rutile. Geologists say that central agencies like Bureau of Mines, Atomic Energy Commission, IEA and many more are involved in the scam.

The National Green Tribunal has banned sand mining in coastal areas. Madurai-based Human Rights Protection Centre (HRPC) conducted a survey in Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari about sand mining. It found that monazite, a vital source used to generate atomic energy is being mined and is likely to be smuggled abroad. It says that it will move the Supreme Court to fix a panel to probe this scam which is bigger than the 2G spectrum case. The effects of radiation from this mineral on the villagers too has to be studied.