The Punjab government has formed a coordination committee comprising SAD-BJP members to study the model of mining operations in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in detail to bring required changes in the system in Punjab so as to keep a check on illegal mining and bring down "spiraling" prices of sand and gravel.
"We will study the model of mining operations of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in our next meeting to see how their systems operate to keep a check on mining mafia and illegal mining so that public could be given sand and gravel at lower rates," a BJP leader who is part of the coordination committee said on Wednesday.
"Our intention is that people should get sand, gravel at rates which are 50 per cent lower and moreover mining mafia could also be checked," he said.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for September 26. The SAD-BJP led Punjab government had earned the wrath from several quarters for not been able to bring down the rates of minor mineral including sand, gravel etc.
On September 2, the Punjab government had decided to excavate and sell minor minerals through the state-owned departments by eliminating the role of private mining contractors in a bid to check rising prices.
The committee on Wednesday also got feedback of Excise and Taxation department as part of its initiative to rationalise VAT rates in Punjab.
"We have asked the representatives of Excise and Taxation department to provide the comparative rates of Value Added Tax (VAT) on various items of neighbouring states in order to see where higher rates are being charged from industry and traders," he said.
Industry has been complaining about the higher VAT rates and "rigid" tax structure which was proving to be stumbling block in industrial growth.
Thereafter, the committee will approach different industry associations for their views of tax structure existing in the state, he said.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had formed a six-member committee of SAD and BJP members to streamline day-to-day functioning and cooperation between the alliance partners.
The SAD-BJP alliance has been facing widespread criticism over property tax, complicated VAT structure and spiralling prices of sand and gravel.
The SAD-BJP coordination committee, in the end, will send its recommendations to Badal for implementation.
From the Akali Dal, the panel comprises Rajya Sabha MPs Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and Balwinder Singh Bhunder, besides Lok Sabha MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura.
Pathankot MLA Ashwani Sharma, senior BJP leaders Narottam Dev Ratti and Rajinder Bhandari represent BJP in the panel.