In a face-saving exercise, the SAD-BJP alliance — that is attracting flak from various quarters over the allegations of involvement of its ministers in drug peddling and illegal sand mining — has decided to act tough against anyone involved in illegal mining and has reportedly launched a massive drive against drug menace.
State industries and commerce minister Madan Mohan Mittal has issued strict instructions to all district-level officers and officials of the department to keep strict vigil on illegal mining in their respective areas.
He said the state government had made a comprehensive plan to initiate effective steps to control illegal mining and claimed that of fenders would not be spared. Presiding over a highlevel meeting in Circuit House, here on Saturday, Mittal said he had asked all district-level officers to submit a detailed report on FIRs related to illegal mining, unauthorised gravel crushers and other irregularities on a monthly basis, adding that they were also asked to suggest ways to curb illegal mining activities in their areas.
“The auction of mines will help bring transparency in the allocation process besides curbing illegal business. After creating groups, the department will allot mines through the draw-of-lots system to successful bidders,” he said, adding that the department was also planning to set up a special task force to check illegal mining.
During the meeting, Mittal advised officials to work hard in an honest and transparent manner to make sure that development work does not get affected.
“The Punjab government is fully committed to provide sand on nominal rates and officers have been asked check discrepancies and monitor mining operations,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister has also asked to establish village level committees to curb incidents of sand theft.
“Considering more number of mines in areas of Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Rupnagar and SAS Nagar, more general managers would be appointed soon,” he said, adding that 49 mines out of the total 300 had already been auctioned and soon the rest would be auctioned after getting clearance certificate.
Mittal also made it clear that on the issue of illegal sand mining, there was no political pressure from any side and offenders would be tackled according to the law.