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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, January 10, 2013
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Capt Amarinder Singh has demanded the cancellation of auction of all the sand mines held on Thursday.


Amarinder questioned the genuineness of the auction by saying, the mines have been allotted for unrealistically high bids defying all financial logic.

He said, the way auction has been held will only lead to monopoly both in mining of sand as well as its pricing and it will virtually be impossible for the common man to build a house as sand will now be much more costlier than the cement.

Maintaining that the sand mafia patronised by the henchmen of the revenue minister and Youth Akali Dal president Bikram Singh Majithia, had manipulated the auction, Capt Amarinder pointed out, the state government had held the auction for limited pits for an unrealistic figure of Rs. 97 crore, which defies all logic and financial and economic wisdom with an intent to leave rest of the pits open for loot on the pretext of environmental issues.

Expressing doubts over the genuineness of the auction he said, while about two years ago the mines for the entire state had been auctioned for Rs. 54 crore only, this time less than 20 pits in about six districts had been auctioned for Rs. 97 crore. Of these five pits in the districts of Mohali, Ludhiana and Jalandhar had been auctioned for a whopping Rs. 84 crore.

Amarinder revealed that one single pit in village Chandiala in Mohali district had been auctioned for Rs. 34 crore. The same pit, he disclosed, had been auctioned for Rs. 50 lakh only about two years ago.

He said, this much of increase defies all the logic.

Disclosing that the mining mafia patronised by Majithia had evolved a unique mechanism by ensuring unimaginable difference between the highest and the second highest bidder, he said, under this plan, the highest bidder will quote unrealistically highest bid and voluntarily forfeit his deposit after getting the mining rights and the second highest bidder under current practice, will automatically get the mining rights.

Demanding the cancellation of the auction, he also questioned the purpose of holding auction for a limited number of pits only.

He said, this way those granted the mining rights will not only resort to loot of the sand
mines in the state, but will also charge exorbitant prices.

He said, this will also lead to corruption and unfair practices.

Quoting an example, Capt Amarinder said, in Ludhiana the mining rights of a single pit have been granted to one Puneet Makkar, who is the nephew of Akali leader Sarbjit Makkar.
 
By getting the mining rights for a single pit after offering highest bid, the mining mafia will go for wanton mining in the entire district since it will have the monopoly both in sand quarrying as well as the pricing, said PPCC president.