Observing that despite a complete ban on mining of gravel and sand in Punjab, illegal mining was going on unchecked under the nose of the government authorities with the connivance of mining department officials, the high court came down heavily on the Punjab government on Friday.
Taking up a petition filed by Hardeep Singh of Roopnagar and Sukhpal Singh of SAS Nagar, seeking directions to the authorities to immediately stop illegal mining, a bench headed by justice Rajive Bhalla issued notices of motion to various authorities of the Punjab government, including BS Brar, general manager-cum-mining officer, SAS Nagar.
The bench also impleaded the deputy commissioner and SSP of SAS Nagar and the Rupnagar SSP, who are the enforcement agencies, as parties in the case and issued them notices for October 16. It said that illegal mining was impossible without the connivance of government officials.
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mansur Ali argued that there were specific directions from the Supreme Court as well as the high court to stop illegal mining and despite that the Punjab government had failed to check the practice.
It was alleged that mining officer BS Brar was sponsoring illegal mining, which was evident from weighment slips and receipts duly stamped by the government authorities, which were produced in the court on Friday.
The petitioners also presented bills of stone crushers showing that gravel, sand and stone were being freely supplied in the last week of September.
Ali said the receipts show that the state agencies were involved, as Form-T was duly stamped by the mining department and VAT was also being paid on mining material. He told the bench that the petitioners had also prepared a CD of the illegal mining going on in Rupnagar district.
The petitioners had got the contract of a mining quarry in Rupnagar and they had stopped the mining following a high court judgment on August 17.