Ruckus over the control of sand and gravel mining in Punjab coupled with the sale of these commodities at exorbitant rates and the subsequent heated exchanges between the opposition and the treasury benches on Wednesday had forced the Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker to adjourn the ongoing budget session twice.
The issue cropped up during the call attention motion when Congress MLA from Morinda Jagmohan Singh Kang questioned the Punjab Industry Minister, Anil Joshi to explain the reasons for the acute shortage of mining material which included sand and gravel in the state.
Kang also pointed that during the last few years especially ever since the SAD-BJP government came to power in 2007 the rates of the sand and gravel have gone very high. More so there is acute shortage of sand and gravel in the market and the common man has to purchase these material by paying exorbitant rate.
When the speaker asked Joshi to reply to Kang’s query, the minister explained that the Punjab cabinet has recently constituted a sub-committee to look into the matter and it would also regulate the rates of sand and gravel all across Punjab.
Kang who was not satisfied with Joshi’s reply went on to allege that a large number of contracts of the mining material including sand and gravel were being controlled by the Badal family. “They have controlled the transport business, cable network and now also the sand and gravel in the state”, alleged kand who demanded and inquiry into the entire sand and gravel operations.
Kang also read the rates of the sand and gravel prevailing in the market and also of the previous years making a comparison how these have gone extremely high.
All this while speaker, Charanjit Singh Atwal kept asking Kang to sit down and let Joshi read a detailed reply on the issue.
Joshi even made a sarcastic remarks saying that perhaps Kang did not get the sand and gravel contract that’s why he was making a noise on the issue in the house.
The heated exchange between Kang and Joshi made even Punjab health and family welfare minister Madan Mohan Mittal join the issue who taunted Kang saying that perhaps the congress MLA wanted that the government should award the sand and gravel contracts to the people sitting on the other side (meaning congress sitting on the opposition benches).
Punjab Revenue Minister, Bikram Singh Majithia who so far had been watching the proceedings and exchange of words between Kang from the sidelines suddenly got up and questioned the congress MLA in a very aggressive tone about the allegations leveled against him and the rest of the Badal family.
“Do you have any evidence to prove that the members of the Badal family were involved in the illegal mining of rivers and control over the sand and gravel? If you don’t have the proof then you have no right to level an allegation. ”, said Majithia.
Seeing the situation turning ugly it was now the turn of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar to stand up in support of Kang. “The allegations made by my colleague are of very serious nature and must be thoroughly inquired into. The speaker may find it fit to constitute a committee of the house to look into the entire issue”, said Jakhar.
However when the congress party did not get the desired reply Kang began shouting slogans against the SAD-BJP government along with the other members of the opposition party. The speaker kept asking the opposition benches to maintain order in the house but to no avail.
Thereafter Kang walked towards the well of the house raising slogans against the government and he was soon joined by the other members of his party. Kang sat in the well of the house demanding a house committee.
As the speaker felt that the proceedings of the house were being disrupted by the slogan shouting of the opposition benches he adjourned the house for half an hour.
When the house assembled again the opposition reiterated its demand for the house committee. The speaker had to adjourn the house once again for half an hour.