TN granite mining loss calculation unscientific, federation says

CHENNAI: When the total value of India’s granite exports over a period of 17 years worked out to a mere Rs 52,000 crore, how can the notional loss suffered by illegal granite mining in Madurai district alone would work out to Rs 1 lakh crore, an association of granite mining companies has asked.

When a PIL relating to illegal mining of granite in Madurai district, for which the first bench of Madras high court had appointed senior IAS officer U Sagayam as legal commissioner, came up for further hearing on Thursday, P Wilson, senior advocate for the Federation of Indian Granite and Stone Industry, said such astronomical figures had been arrived at on the basis of unscientific data.

The first bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on September 11, 2014 handpicked IAS officer U Sagayam and appointed him as legal commissioner to go into the issues raised in a PIL filed by social activist K R ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy. After it was clarified that Sagayam would go into violations and illegal mining in Madurai district alone, he filed his first report on November 24, 2015. Granite mining in the district came to a halt because of the case.

Now, the 1,200-member federation, registered in Karnataka, has come to court saying only between 10% and 15% of the total quarried granite would be sale-worthy. Though this is the national and international standard, the legal commissioner had proceeded on the premise that about 80% of the granite was sale-worthy, Wilson said.

Noting that for 17 years from 1996 to 2013, India had exported granite to 150 countries and the total value of the transactions was Rs 52.372 crore, Wilson said internal domestic consumption was very negligible. While so, the legal commissioner had quoted astronomical figures of loss because the calculations was on the basis of 80%-85% sale-worthiness.

Seeking to implead itself, besides the government of India entities such as Geological Survey of India, Indian Bureau of Mines, National Institute of Rock Mechanics, Wilson said only then the exact alleged loss could be ascertained. The court should not proceed merely on the basis of the legal commissioner’s reports, he said.

Advocate general of Tamil Nadu said the state government had not yet taken any decision in this regard and added that it had written to the Centre to find out as to what exactly was the value and loss. On receiving the inputs, a final report would be filed in the court, he said.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan posted the matter to January 11, 2017 for further hearing.