Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal on Thursday announced the suspension of Pathankot district general manager industries Dharam Pal in the wake of illegal mining there. But it is yet to be seen whether the minister would act in a similar manner in his Anandpur Sahib assembly constituency following the police crackdown on 34 stone-crushers in the Sutlej and Swan river basins.
"We have suspended him (the Pathankot mining official) after your (HT) news reports on October 15," Mittal said when asked on what specific charges the official had been suspended.
Would he do the same in Anandpur Sahib, where HT exposed illegal mining occurring in the hillocks and river basins? The minister replied, "The same law prevails in the entire state."
"We will inspect all the sites in the entire state and no illegal mining will be tolerated," he said, when asked whether the team from the industries department would also inspect his own constituency the way raids were conducted in Pathankot.
The day HT reported that foothills of Kahnpur Khuhi and the banks of Sutlej and Swan had come under illegal mining along with the stone-crushing activities, the Rupnagar SSP held a press conference, saying the police had already laid a crackdown on 34 "illegally installed stone-crushers" in the entire Anandpur Sahib block. He said he also wrote to the Rupnagar district magistrate to book the violators under the Mining Act and Section 379 of the IPC for the theft of natural resources in the region.
The scenario in Rupnagar district is no different than in Pathankot with signs of illegal mining visible at various locations in the Anandpur Sahib assembly segment as well.
When contacted, Rupnagar deputy commissioner Pradeep Agarwal confirmed that he had written to principal secretary industries Karan A Singh for "appropriate action" so that those violating the Mining Act could be booked.
IG Nirmal Singh Dhillon had on Monday released the list of 34 such stone-crushing units that were found active in illegal mining activities. These units were set up at Sarsa Nangal, Algran and Anandpur Sahib.
The industries department had rushed its team to Pathankot in the wake of the Punjab and Haryana high court's suo motu notice on the HT news reports related to the plundering of the Ravi riverbeds at different stone-crushing sites.
The HT later reported similar reports of illegal mining at Kahnpur Khuhi and other places in Rupnagar district.