LUDHIANA, August 12: A team from the Union Environmental Ministry will soon be visiting Punjab to look into the reports of illegal sand mining in the state. This was disclosed by the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari after meeting the Union Environment Minister Ms Jayanti Natarajan in New Delhi today.
Tewari said, he submitted detailed memorandum to the union minister bringing to her notice the unchecked abuse of sand mines in Punjab that is threatening to create a serious environmental disaster in the state.
He brought to the attention of the minister the widespread mining of sand from the river beds of Punjab regardless of environmental restriction with due patronage from the ruling dispensation in Punjab.
“Although the state claims to be allowing very limited mining and that too after environmental clearance, but the actual situation is quite different as the quarrying continues all over and everywhere”, he disclosed in the memorandum.
The minister added, “so much so, the spans of some of important road and railway bridges on these rivers have been threatened as the sand is extracted using heavy machinery like huge excavators and earth diggers”. Since everything is illegal nobody bothers to observe any norms, he remarked.
Tewari told Ms Natarajan that the Punjab government in 2006 during the Congress regime made it mandatory to have environmental clearance before any sand mining was allowed. But immediately after when the regime changed in 2007 all these norms were thrown to the winds, he alleged.
Even now, the government has supposedly allowed the mining at 27 places only for which, it claims to have, environmental clearance, he said, while adding, however, the sand quarrying is taking place across the state at hundreds of spots obviously without any environmental clearance.
Alleging that there was a big nexus, he said, this all was being done through a nexus of the sand mafia, police and the ruling politicians. “Given the fact that the entire mining is controlled by one group the rates have skyrocketed leading to suspension of work on several developmental projects”, he pointed out.
“I have no hesitation in saying that in Punjab right now while there is total environmental abuse going on everywhere on the other hand the ruling dispensation in Punjab is either complicit or completely complacent by unusually high prices they have fixed for the sand as they have total monopoly and control over its mining”, he said, while urging her to get the matter thoroughly inquired to ensure that Punjab is not subjected wanton environmental abuse.