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CHENNAI: As the Union ministry of mines looks to crack down on illegal mining in the country , major mines in Tamil Nadu have been mapped and digitised and included in the Centre’s database. The process to integrate data from a TN-specific mining tenement registry is also underway , according to officials.
The Centre recently launched the Mining Surveillance System (MSS), a satellite-based monitoring system which seeks to curb instances of illegal mining activity through automatic remote sensing detection technology.

The system, which enables public participation, seeks to check exploitation of natural resources, reduce the impact of mining on the environment, make the monitoring process more transparent, and enable quicker re sponse to unauthorised activity.

The system checks a region of 500 meters around the existing mining lease boundary for unusual activity , possibly an instance of illegal mining, and generates automatic triggers. Using a mobile app, which even citizens can use, officials can submit reports of their inspections.

A dashboard will help officials track the current status of mapping of the mining leases, reasons for triggers, the status of inspections, and penalties levied. However, the onus of taking the follow up steps and penalizing offenders rests with the state government.

The process of integrating TN-specific data is also underway . The state is developing a Global Information System and satellite imageenabled mining tenement registry , a comprehensive database of mining leases in various districts. TN has around 540 major minerals mines, of which 296 are working mines.

According to an official from the state geology and mining department, the registry now has details for Coimbatore, Salem and Tirunelveli.

The official, who did not wish to be named, added that since 2010, the Union Ministry has asked those applying for mining leases to submit georeferenced cadastral maps of the mining leases. “There are some technical issues in integrating the state data with the Centre’s database. We are working on it,” the official said.