A day after HT principal correspondent Jasdeep Singh Malhotra's final report ('Mining ban: Rs. 20 lakh a day goonda tax on sand, gravel in Pathankot', September 22), a seven-member team of officers from various departments quizzed crusher owners, truckers and persons checking slips issued by crusher owners to truck drivers in Behrian Pattan area of the district. The area is notorious for illegal mining.
The team, comprising four officers from Chandigarh, one from Hoshiarpur and two from Pathankot, is on a visit here after the Punjab industries department initiated a probe on the basis of the HT report about extortion in the name of royalty.
The team also reportedly took statements from two persons (Dalbir Singh and Krishna) named in the HT report.
"We have checked almost 55 crushers till now," said Vishav Bandhu, joint director and officer on special duty (OSD, geological). He said his team, including Sarabjit Singh, joint director; Satbir Singh, director (boiler); Balwinder Pal Singh, general manager-cum-mining officer, Hoshiarpur; naib tehsildar Laxman Singh from Pathankot; general manager DP Bhagat, mining, Pathankot; and Rantez Sharma, SDO, pollution control board; would continue its work on Tuesday.
Bandhu said crusher owners had termed the controversial slips as the gate pass to check details of their stocks. He added that all crusher owners had termed it a legal and necessary procedure to check leakage of stocks.
When asked about royalty slips, the officer said crusher owners and truckers had shown them slips purportedly issued by Jammu and Kashmir contractors, along with bills, as they were claiming that mining material was being procured from neighbouring J&K and Himachal Pradesh.
DP Bhagat, GM, mining, said the team would submit its report in a few dayss.