Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday directed all deputy commissioners to ensure availability of sand and gravel and other mining material to the public at reasonable prices and ensure the working of all auctioned mines at their full capacity.
Reviewing the availability of mining material to the public at a meeting of deputy commissioners from all over the state, the deputy CM said it was the duty of the deputy commissioners to ensure that nobody was allowed to create artificial scarcity of mining material by not operating the mines.
He said it was imperative for district authorities to monitor the dispatch of excavated mining material every day and send the report to the central control room. He asked principal secretary to the CM, SK Sandhu, to coordinate with all deputy commissioners, the mining department and the pollution control department.
Ordering the immediate auction of 100 mines below 50 hectares, Sukhbir said the auction process should be accelerated to increase the supply in the market and bring the price to a reasonable level.
Focusing on riverbed dredging to excavate sand, Sukhbir asked deputy commissioners to identify at least 100 such spots where dredging of river was legally allowed.
Taking a serious note of 4.57 lakh tonnes of mining material lying in two districts, awaiting procedural clearance for auction, Sukhbir told the department concerned to immediately auction the material, which could fulfill the requirement of the entire state for at least four months. He also asked the irrigation department to conduct a statewide riverbed mapping to identify suitable spots for dredging of sand.
He said Punjab had 800-km-long canal network and there was huge possibility of dredging sand scientifically from the riverbed. He asked the industries department to delegate the power to SDMs, tehsildars and naib-tehsildars for excavating soil for construction purposes.
Asking the deputy commissioners to cancel all those contracts of mines, which had not started their operations, the deputy CM said nobody would be allowed to monopolise the trade to create a scarcity of the construction material.