In a face-saving exercise, the Punjab Police on Monday swung into action and conducted raids on stone crushers in Rupnagar district to check their illegal operation.
The cops' action followed the HT news report 'Illegal mining: assault on hillocks, Sutlej rivulets goes unabated' on Sunday.
Rupnagar SSP Inder Mohan Singh conducted physical verification of about 100 stone crushers in Anandpur Sahib sub-division and 15 stone crushers in Rupnagar sub-division on Monday evening and found them as "closed".
He said further action would be taken after receiving the reports regarding the verification of these stone crushers.
The SSP earlier held a press conference during the day, saying the police had conducted raids on the illegal crushing sites on October 8, two days before the HT team visited these sites and found several of those units operational.
"We are making every effort to check illegal mining in the district," he said.
He even named 34 stone crushers whose licences and registration were to be cancelled on the police recommendation.
"The police had recommended cancellation of their registration and licences as they were found running till recently even after the expiry of permission granted by the mining department, during our surprise checking on October 8," he said.
The crushers, he said, whose licences were to be cancelled included USB stone crusher, Metro, Sri Ganesh, Samrat, Royal, SNM, SS Brar, Hemkunt and Guru Nanak stone crusher falling in areas under the Anandpur Sahib police station.
Similarly, he said, the police recommended the cancellation of the licences of various stone-crushing units along the Sirsa rivulet of the Sutlej. These included Doon screening plant and stone crusher, Jai Mata Naina Devi screening plant, J and H screening plant, Bath stone crusher and screening plant, Captain screening plant and stone crusher at Diwari village, Hargobind stone crusher, Ranjit screening and crushing plant, BBD stone crusher, Fateh screening plant at Diwari, Akal Sahai stone crusher and screening plant, and Damrait stone crusher, all situated in the area falling under Kiratpur Sahib police station at Sirsa Nangal and Diwari villages.
Police have also recommended the cancellation of licences and registration of various crushing units at Algran. These included Bhinder screening plant, Eak Sharan screening plant, Shiwalik (Chaudhary) screening plant, Punjab screening plant, JS screening plant, Sai screening plant, Ludhiana screening plant, Super screening plant, Dasmesh screening plant, Aman screening plant, Roohani screening plant, Akash stone crusher and screening plant, Sidhivinayak stone crusher, and Gobindgarh screening plant, situated in the areas falling under the Nurpur Bedi police station.
He said the photographs of these stone crushers had been sent to the district magistrate and district mining officer with the recommendation that the licences and registration of these be cancelled.
The SSP said FIRs could also be registered against the owners of these stone crushers on the complaint of the mining department.
He claimed that the police had registered 105 FIRs regarding illegal mining activity in Rupnagar district this year and arrested 222 people, adding that on Sunday the police had challaned and impounded 17 trucks loaded with sand.
The police had laid special nakas to check the movement of trucks carrying illegal mining material.
"Sometimes people involved in illegal mining take advantage of non-availability of police force for manning these nakas due to their deployment for other purposes," he said.
When contacted, district mining officer Ram Singh feigned ignorance about the recommendation of Rupnagar police regarding the cancellation of licences of stone crushers saying he was not in his office as he was preoccupied with other work.