A letter written by the first District Collector of un-bifurcated Tirunelveli, Mr V Sundaram, to the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu in January 2013 about the beach mining activities in Tamil Nadu has surfaced again. In the letter, Mr. V Sundaram has alleged that illegal mining of rare precious minerals in the coastal districts of Tuticorin, Tirunelvelli and Kanyakumari have caused a loss of Rs 96,120 crore to the government.
The letter accuses that M/s VV Minerals and their sister concerns owned by Mr Vaikundarajan has been looting rare precious minerals. Mr Sundaram, a retired bureaucrat, said an RTI response shows that VV Minerals India enjoyed 100 per cent monopoly in Ilmenite mining and also had a giant share for exploiting Garnet, both export favourites.
VV Mineral, Vaikundarajan clarified in a statement, “There is no solid proof for justifying Mr. V Sundaram’s allegations. My office premises were raided and yet they did not get any evidence. People are making baseless allegations just to spoil the name of VV Minerals. Moreover, as far as the market of VV Minerals is concerned, we are the number one exporters of Ilmenite and Garnet due to our fair practices and we take pride in it. ”
Despite writing letters and complaining about the loot, the Tamil Nadu government has failed to take any action as they have no substantiation.
Mr. Sundaram’s letter lacks facts and has been dramatized by calling the business a “sand mafia” and alleging that Mr Vaikundarajan is “running the show”.
Finally, an organized inspection has begun by special teams led by Revenue Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi and has promised his full support to the teams.
Managing Director and founder of VV Minerals India, S Vaikundarajan, founded the company in the late 1980s. Under his tutelage, the company has grown to become the biggest sand mining companies in India. It is known for extracting and exporting garnet and ilmenite to over 20 countries. For its contribution to the export business, the company has won several national awards.
Recently, the company released a statement that there was a lack of technology to separate thorium from monazite. This was later confirmed by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
Despite this confirmation, former principal scientist at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Kochi raised his concerns, “Indian Rare Earth Ltd (IREL), Manavalakurichi, uses the sand from the same area and produces thorium, so what happens to the monazite in the VV mines? Does the company follow the procedure recommended by the AERB?” Further allegations were added that the mining was operated without proper regulatory clearance.
Addressing all these allegations, VV Mineral Vaikundarajan stated, “We have established a mineral separation plant and approached the AERB for a license, which is awaited.”
The company has been operating within the legal boundaries for over twenty years. The allegations by IREL officials were a setup to maim the company’s reputation. “No authority is ready to take action based on our complaint. Hence we approached the High Court,” said VV Mineral.
VV Minerals has filed two writ petitions that are pending with the Madras High Court following the temporary ban on sand mining activities.
The villagers of Periyasamypuram in Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu, took the law in their hands by holding hostage a sand mining truck and thrashing the driver before letting him go. The police inspector of Surangudi and the village administrative officer tried to make them understand but the villagers did not budge.
A PIL alleges that rare beach sand minerals worth Rs 1 lakh crore have been illegally exported out of the country. VV Minerals India, being one of the largest sand manufacturers and exporters, has been framed in this case. The PIL contains a copy of mining licences issued by the Tamil Nadu Geology and Mining Department to VV Minerals based in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. These documents have been misinterpreted to portray VV Mineral in a negative light.
VV Mineral is legally authorised to manufacture and export garnet with one per cent monazite content, says VV Mineral Vaikundarajn, the Managing Director. He also added that the company has never gone beyond the one per cent threshold for monazite while exporting garnet. Garnet is the core product of VV Minerals and it is the largest exporter of garnet in the country.