The Punjab government's own official records reveal that as many as 124 stone-crushers have been functioning illegally in Rupnagar district right under the nose of the authorities.
Though 29 of these non-registered units have applied for registration, there are 95 such crushers that have not even bothered to seek registration.
The information has been provided under the Right to Information Act by the mining officer in the department of industries. According to the official records, there are over 600 stone-crushers/washing plants located in different districts of the state.
Now, one of the stone-crushing units in Rupnagar district that has been barred from operating by the authorities has approached the Punjab and Haryana high court, submitting the details of the 124 illegal units and seeking action against them.
Taking up a petition filed by Bachittar Singh, owner of Jatana crushing company at Sarsa Nangal village, the high court has issued notices of motion to the Punjab government, Rupnagar deputy commissioner, Punjab Pollution Control Board, mining officer and the other departments concerned to respond to the allegations made in the petition.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Mansur Ali informed the court that despite having all the required permissions, the state government authorities were not allowing the petitioner's unit to operate while they were allowing other stone crushers to do illegal mining and stone-crushing.
The petitioner has also placed on record photographs of some of the illegal units.
The court was also informed that even 'illegal royalty' was being demanded by the mining department from the petitioner to allow him to operate his unit.
The counsel informed the court that the petitioner's unit is situated around 1.5 km from the riverbed; whereas one of the illegal stone-crushers shown in a photograph is operating in the middle of the riverbed near Algram village.
The petitioner informed the court that Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal had gone on record in an interview given to the Hindustan Times on July 30 saying the "illegal mining cannot be controlled".
The petitioner has sought directions to the authorities concerned to review his case with regard to the consent for running the stone crusher as he meets all parameters/permissions as on date.
The Rupnagar deputy commissioner on February 22 last year had barred the petitioner's unit from operating after recording, "The petitioner could not disclose any legal source of the material lying at the crusher and the consent to operate issued by the Punjab Pollution Control Board has also expired."