The Punjab government is working on a strategy to ensure that construction material such as sand is available cheap, state industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal has said here.
"We are close to solving the problem, as even the chief minister is concerned that people are forced to build homes with costly material," Mittal said at a press conference on Friday evening. Taking questions over this issue, he claimed that the fresh auctioning of quarries after environmental clearances will increase the sand-and-gravel production automatically and bring down the cost of these materials.
"The problem of illegal mining will not remain once the new policies come into effect," the minister said. Over the heavy supplies of sand and gravel from the neighboring Himachal Pradesh, he referred to his orders to ensure that the trade was legal, and agreed to take up the matter with his counterpart in the hill state.
On industry's seeing better prospects in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir for tax benefits, Mittal said he had invited many industrialists to Punjab and promised them a more hassle-free venture than other states can offer. Asked how he would convince them, given that electricity in the state was both costly and scarce, Mittal said he was trying to bring the tax-holiday system to Punjab as well.
He was uncomfortable when the media pointed to the widening rift between his party and the Akalis, who preferred to go alone to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with demands from the state. "Most of the times, Badal Sahib (chief minister Parkash Singh Badal) does take the officer or minister concerned along," Mittal clarified, adding: "There are no differences between us."
He listened to the problems of crusher owners in a separate meeting and promised them a solution. Local legislator Ashwani Sharma, former minister Master Mohan Lal, and other leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were present.