- MONDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2012 00:29
- KUMAR CHELLAPPAN.|.CHENNAI
UAV Daksha at an illegal granite quarry in Melur taluk on Friday
Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the DMP chief, has an aversion to anything connected with epics of Hinduism. He does not lose a single opportunity to ridicule and taunt the Hindu Gods. At the peak of the agitation against the demolition of Rama Sethu, the rock structure believed to be built by Lord Rama at Palk Satraits, for the construction of Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel, Karunanidhi made fun of various Hindu organisations asking them in which college did Lord Rama study engineering.
Well, Daksha, a character from a Hindu epic is haunting the Karunanidhi clan. Daksha, is the son of Lord Brahma, the creator. But the Daksha giving sleepless nights to Karunidhi, his son Alagiri (Union Minister for Fertilisers) and Durai Dayanidhi (Alagiri’s son and Karunanidhi’s grandson) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Madras Institute of Technology, alma mater of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
The Government of Tamil Nadu has deployed a Daksha UAV to find out hoarded granites and the illegal quarries in the district of Madurai. According to an initial report submitted by former district collector U Sagayam to the Government, illegal quarrying in the district has cost the state more than `16,000 crore.
The companies involved in the quarrying included Olympus Granites, allegedly owned by Durai Dayanidhi. The alleged quarrying took place during 2006 to 2011 when the State was ruled by Karunanidhi. Union Minister Alagiri, his elder son by his second wife Dayalu Ammal, was a law unto himself in Madurai during 2006 to 2011.
The probe by the teams constituted by the district collector has found that out of 175 granite quarries in the district, 94 had violated various norms by destroying waterbodies, encroachement of private and Government lands and illicit mining from Government as well as private lands.
The Daksha flew over areas which were inaccessible in normal circumstances. The high-tech camera onboard the UAV sent high resolution pictures of the landscape to the MIT team which deciphered details about granites hoarded and illegal quarries.
Enthused by the results, the district administration has imported three Laser Distance Surveying Meters from the UK which will be integrated to the UAV. The LDSM, a kind of Third Eye, will find out the exact level of quarrying done by the companies inviolved in the illegal quarrying.
The laser beams emitted by the LDSM will assessthe depth and width of all the pits in the quarried areas. One of the officials involved in the investigation told this newspaper that the magnitude of illegal quarrying could be more than `40,000 crore.
The Jayalalithaa Government has issued lookout notices for Dayanidhi and some of his business partners. Sources in the DMK said Dayanidhi has no connection with Olympus Granites since he quit the company in 2010 itslelf. But the police picked up PR Palanichamy, owner of PRP Granites in connection with illegal quarrying and it is reported that he has spilled a lot of beans. Dayanidhi has approached the Madras High Court for anticipatory bail which the court will hear on September 21.
Action against illegal granite quarrying in Melur taluk virtually took to the skies on Friday.
Daksha, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) developed by the Anna University’s Madras Institute of Technology, was roped in to survey thousands of hoarded granite blocks and quarries spread over hundreds of acres in the taluk. The UAV was used to record aerial footages after officials cited difficulties in carrying out manual surveillance.
A team headed by Associate Professor K Senthilkumar of MIT’s Aerospace department operated Daksha in Ovamalai village on Friday. The video footage recorded by cameras fitted to the UAV was transmitted live to computers on ground.
Interestingly, the UAV’s video footage revealed a secret room and three chests, hidden in rows of granite blocks. No incriminating material was found in the room, a source said. However, a stack of answer sheets of the Madurai Kamaraj University was found in one of the chests. A container hidden between the blocks was also unearthed.
Police suspect that documents or cash that had been stashed away there might have been removed after their probe began. Researchers say they could quantify granite blocks hoarded in Melur, using the UAV.
Officials intensified a probe on illegal quarries after granite baron and PRP Export’s owner P Palanisamy surrendered following charges levelled against him.