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GRANITE SCAM - TAMILNADU - 2012


HISTORY OF THE SCANDAL
The granite scam which came to light in the year 2012 is one among the major scandals in Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. This scam involved the forbidden quarrying of granite in the nearby area of Madurai district. The granite scam was exposed to the public when the then collector of Madurai district sent a report on this illegal activity of quarrying to the Chief Minister's office. According to investigation reports submitted it was stated that the initial amount on this illegal quarrying is supposed to be up to 16,000 crores. The granite scandal involves some of the officials of the state owned Tamil Nadu Minerals LTD who are supposed to have formed a secret understanding with granite companies and thereby granting them a free hand which further led to doing unethical and illegal activities and committing violations. One of the main accused in the granite scandal includes Dayanidhi Azhagiri, son of Union Minister M. K. Alagiri who has been reportedly charged for illegal sand and granite mining by companies owned by them.


INFRINGEMENT BY THE GRANITE QUARRIES
If not for the Maduari district collector Mr.U. Sagayam who was quite impulsive on this issue and drafted a letter to the Principal Secretary of the State Industries Department on May 19, 2012. A copy of this letter was also sent to the then Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha's office. In the letter written by the Collector he clearly mentioned about the infringement by many of the granite quarries in Madurai district and had estimated a loss of more than sixteen thousand crores rupees to the state exchequer. This letter written by Sagayam very clearly exposed and cited the illegal activities of three major granite operators in Melur taluk in Madurai district. The three major granite companies which are supposed to be involved in the scam according to the details of the letter are PRP Exports, Olympus Granites and Sindhu Granites all situated in Melur taluk of Madurai district in Tamilnadu. It not only involves the scandal of money but also of how the farmers and the rural people living in that particular area were deprived of their livelihoods and how it became possible for the granite companies to continue their loot in connivance with the officials of the Departments of Revenue and Geology & Mining for several years.

DEATILED REPORT
Already the situation or the scandal related to the coal mining scam had plunged the Parliament and the UPA Government into an irksome situation which saw no progress still continuing to the resentment the nation, yet another major scandal related to the brewing of granite in Tamil Nadu clearly pictures the wholesale plunder of the country's natural resources is an old practice and more widespread than what is evident. It also indicates that the scam has not come up out of the blue but it had reached a steady stage which must have involved the support of people from the opposite political party too. For a state, Rs 16,500 crores, that the scam in question is estimated at, is perhaps as big as Rs 186,000 crores at the centre. And that it has been going on for years shows that people with patronage from opposite political camps might be involved.

INVESTIGATION
As mentioned earlier the main accused of the granite scam were the companies situated in the Melur taluk of the Madurai district and they were namely PRP Exports, Olympus Granites and Sindhu Granites. The people who were mainly affected by this issue were the rural people living in and in the vicinity of the surrounding area where their daily habitual living was affected by the accused with the help of the officials of the Departments of Revenue and Geology & Mining for several years. Thus this lead to a team of 18 officers headed by the Madurai Collector Anshul Mishra who started to investigate and inspect the quarries in the district which is nearly 175 in number. Once the investigation was over one of the main accused of the granite scam P. R. Palanisamy of PRP Exports and Panneer Mohamed owner of Madura Granites in Melur admitted and surrendered to the police. As a result of the investigation done and the reports submitted the state government has got into severe action and suspended nine people including a Thasildar and Deputy Thasildar in Madurai.

SENIOR CLERK OF TAMILNADU MINERALS LIMITED(TAMIN)
Another person who was arrested in a case related to the granite scam was a senior clerk of Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN). A representation was made by the Madurai Collector Anshul Mishra to the Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi seeking a probe by the DVAC into the role of public servants in the scam. Once this scam was out in the media, as a precautionary measure the Tamil Nadu government with the help of the Income Tax Department conducted raids in a number of quarries across different parts of the state. Another politically big head who is on the run related to the granite scam and also referred as granite baron of the state is Durai Dayanidhi, son of M K Alagiri the Union Minister. Durai Dayanidhi owns the Olympus Granites and there are reports against him which staunches and accuses him of illegal quarrying. Durai Dayanidhi has also very cleverly filed a petition in the high court bench for an anticipatory bail. But however the main accused and the owner of PRP Exports, P R Palanichamy along with his two sons P Senthil Kumar and P Suresh Kumar and his son- in- law A Maharajan had already submitted a request and application for the anticipatory bail in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court understanding the warrant for arrest against a case registered on them in the Keelavalavu police station.

ACTION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VIGILANCE AND ANTI-CORRUPTION
The Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption has stated that officials of the Tamil Nadu Minerals Corporation (TAMIN), departments of revenue, and geology and mining and the police have reportedly allowed acting in a secret way according to the wishes of the quarry mafia. Apparently, one company alone owned about 3000 acres of land in Madurai and surrounding places. The investigation and raids related to this issue is still being continued by the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. According to the report submitted by the then Madurai collector Sagayam indicating a loss of about 16,000 Crores to the treasury of the state government, but however the RTI (Right To Information) activitists claim that the losses can be more than 1 lakh crore. It is very shocking to know that the granite operators have forced the people to vacate the area by threatening them that water channel coming to their area would be blocked or even they might pump the granite waste into the land of the rural people.

PRESSURE FROM MANY POLITICAL PARTIES FOR FURTHER PROBE INTO THE CASE
GRANITE SCAM
There are also cases and complaints received by V Balakrishnan, a Superintendent of police that the granite operators went to the extent of even threatening the people by blasting explosives in the nearby areas. There was pressure from many political parties for further probe into the case especially the CPM and the PMK which had asked for a CBI investigation into the scam, but the state government has said that the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption has the required ability or is competent enough to handle the case. The CPM has approached the Madras high court with its demand and filed a petition on the granite scam and argued that the quarry owners had a free run for 19 years and there hadn't been any action despite three inspections pointing out illegalities since 2010. Another petition, which also demanded CBI enquiry, said that the people involved were politically and financially influential and hence the national agency should investigate.

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION PETITIONS
GRANITE SCANDAL
Based on the public interest litigation petitions which have been filed in the Madras High Court Bench in 2012 mainly for the purpose of the Central Board of Investigation to get into the probing of the multi-crores granite quarry scam, there was much insistence from all grounds. But however the successor of the Collector Sagayam, Mr.Anshul Mishra took strict actions against all the granite companies in the Madurai district and in fact certain quarries were also sealed and their license remains suspended. In spite of this few of the owners of the granite company who were trying to get bail both from the Madras High Court Bench and the Supreme Court were all arrested by the district police. A status report was filed by Mr Anshul Mishra in the High Court Bench which clearly stated that there is no requirement of the CBI probe in this for the state government is better equipped to handle this problem.

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