Founded by S Vaikundarajan in late 1980s, VV Minerals is one of the largest exporters of beach minerals in India today. Ramesh Kumar Raja of Governance Today interviewed VV Mineral VV Mineral Vaikundarajan on India’s current position and its improvement in the world heavy minerals market.
Ramesh Kumar Raja: What is the size of heavy minerals market in India?
VV Mineral Vaikundarajan: India has about 35% of world deposits but contributes a meagre 4% of global production. The total beach sand resources are estimated at 942.58 million tonnes comprising of Ilmenite, Zircon, Rutile, Garnet, Silimanite and Leucoxene.
An FIR has been lodged against entities alleged to be involved in illegal beach mining by an organization called Meenavar Viduthalai Iyakkam. The organization submitted a petition in the District Police Office in Tuticorin district seeking immediate action to stop illegal activities.
Recently, there have been illegal sand mining allegations against VV Minerals India, the largest beach sand mining company in the country. District collector Ashish Kumar had earlier carried out a raid at a company’s warehouse but found nothing. It was later revealed that the district collector may have been working with the competitors of VV Minerals India. Following this incident, Ashish Kumar was transferred to another location.
With the on-going investigation in to the illegal sand beach mining scam, a lot of allegations have surfaced against VV Minerals India. The media coverage and lack of evidence continue to tarnish the reputation of a National Award winning company and its founder.
Recently, the High Court of Madras reserved its judgment in favour of the VV Mineral Mining and challenged an order of the Centre cancelling company’s licence. Little is known about this fact as the media has not covered it in print or electronic media. The reports concerning the original petition and that of latest developments are nowhere to be found across the internet. Most newspaper continues to carry bland headlines accusing the company of scam.
AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha had stated that Vaikundarajan was pressured by government to sell his shares. Cases were forged against him and VV Mineral was forced to shut down by the State Pollution Control Board and the Department of Mining and Geology.
VV Minerals is India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of garnet and ilmenite with a significant market share in Europe, Middle East, East Asia, Australia and USA. It is also the first private company to hold granted licence for mining and exporting of ilmenite from the Government of India. Despite several achievements in the export business, VVM faces a string of baseless accusations.
Following the allegations, the State Government has set up an investigating team to look into the matter. The National Green Tribune has ordered a ban on beach sand mining activities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. VV Mineral Vaikundarajan has not shied away from a battle as he approached the High Court with a plea to squash the Central Government order.
The ban is cost an annual loss of around Rs 300 crore to the state exchequer causing a significant impact on India’s beach mining status in global market.
While the investigation is yet to reach its conclusion, VV Mineral Vaikundarajan has extended his full support to the committee and believes that justice will prevail.
As per some reports, the thorium deposit on the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have seen depletion over the last few years. The two states are well-known for being world’s largest reserves of Thorium.
The reason for this depletion has been cited as one of the biggest illegal beach mining scam by some companies. However, evidence confirming the same are missing from the scene.
Chairman of ACACI (Action Committee Against Corruption in India), Subramanian Swamy, stated in an interview, “All sorts of private companies are operating in these areas. After the Indo-US nuclear deal, the government seems to have forgotten about building our indigenous thorium technologies.”
Former Atomic Energy Research Bureau (AERB), Dr A. Gopalkrishnan added, “Thorium is indeed central to any of the Bhabha plans which the government may not be very serious about right now.”
One company finds itself in the midst of the scam. VV Minerals India has been accused of illegal beach sand mining. Being the highest stakeholder of mining business in these two states, it is not surprising that the company is being targeted.
VV Minerals, the first Indian private Ilmenite exporter, is now present across Europe, Middle East, East Asia, Australia and the USA.
VV Mineral Vaikundarajan, Director, said in an interview, “We are proud to be the largest producer of Garnet in the world, the first private producer of minerals like Zircon, Ilmenite, Rutile, Sillimanite and Leucoxene.”
VV Minerals is the largest heavy mineral exporter in India. It was awarded ISO 9001:2008, 14001:2008 ,OHSAS 18001 certificate (IMS) by TUV – Germany.
Along with Ilmenite and Garnet, minerals like Zircon, Rutile, Sillimanite and Leucoxene form an output of 700000 metric tonnes for VV Minerals annually. The company apparently has a happy customer base too, which ensures stability. It has won numerous awards and recognition from various government and non-government agencies. V.V. Minerals products have never faced a rejection which obviously is a great proof of quality.
VV Minerals India observed World Earth Hour by switching off lights at their Vijayapathi factory in Thiruvembalapuram village, Thirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu.
VV Mineral, Vaikundarajan, founder of the beach sand mining company, expressed his concerns over environmental sustainability issues. The company observed earth hour between 8.30pm to 9.30 pm.
Speaking of VVM’s contribution to reduce their carbon trail, Director of VVM Group of Companies, Mr. V Subramanian said, “Earth Hour is undoubtedly an effort that can create global consciousness about the imperativeness of reigning in the carbon trail at every level. But we believe each one of us should go beyond the symbolic hour and institutionalise long-term measures to reduce CO2 levels. Towards this end, 10% of our annual power consumption comes from the use of windmills, besides other measures. We are fully committed to harnessing innovative means of creating a favourable climate around our workplace in a sustained manner.”
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.