CHANDIGARH, June 21: Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh today said that the new sand mining policy of the Punjab government lacked transparency and was aimed at continuing the monopoly of the sand mafia patronised by the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and his brother in law Bikram Singh Majithia.
Asserting that the current policy will lead to huge losses to state exchequer he said, while previously the sand quarries in Mohali district were auctioned for over Rs ten crores, this time the maximum price fixed is only Rs 78.93 lakhs. Similarly the Gurdaspur district which was earlier auctioned for Rs 8.5 crores is now on auction for just Rs 1.33 crores. Same is the case with the other districts, he said, while adding, it will be a mafia run all the way.Referring to the proposed e-auctioning of the sand mines across the state on June 27, 28 and 29, Capt Amarinder said that nobody had any idea as how the auctioning would be done. “This has been done with the clear aim of letting the mafia’s monopoly to continue”, he remarked, while adding everything was being done in a clandestine and hush-hush manner.
The PCC President revealed that the mining department issued the notification for the auctioning of the sand mining and never publicised it. He said, the notification was issued on June 10 but it never mentioned that those interested in the auction should register themselves within 7 days (of the issue of the notification). This, he added, was done with the obvious purpose of not letting people to register themselves so that the mafia will have a free run.
He said, not only did e-tendering process under the current format seem to be shady, but it also seems to have been aimed at putting off maximum number of people for the obvious reason that not many people have any knowledge of internet.
Capt Amarinder warned, while the policy would certainly be scrapped by the next Congress government, at the same time those found guilty of monopolising the trade will be held accountable.
Asserting that the entire auctioning process was aimed at hoodwinking the court directions and circumventing the environmental protection requirements, he said, the e-auctioning is just an eyewash as the government is auctioning only a fraction of the actual area under sand mining, while leaving remaining parts open for the mafia loot.
The former Chief Minister said, under the proposed auction plan, main mining patches have been left out while only the smaller ones have been put on auction just to circumvent the environment protection norms. Under such norms any patch above five hectares will need to be cleared for environment protection norms. This government has either broken the big patches into smaller ones or has left those patches out for the mafia.
He said, even the farmers have not been spared as their land has been excluded from the auction thus leaving them at the mercy of the mafia who will certainly exploit the poor farmers owning the land.