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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Privilege motion coming up against Punjab industry minister

HT Correspondent   Ferozepur, January 16, 2013
First Published: 20:44 IST(16/1/2013) | Last Updated: 21:27 IST(16/1/2013)

Privilege motion is coming up against industry minister Anil Joshi in the coming budget session of the assembly.

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The state Congress Legislature Party (CLP), which will bring this motion, has charged Joshi with misguiding the house on the issue of making construction material such as sand and gravel available in the state for affordable price by August 15, 2012.

State leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar declared the privilege motion plan on Wednesday in a press release issued here. "Contrary to what Anil Joshi and health minister Madan Mohan Mittal promised on the floor of the house in the June 2012 assembly session, the cost of building material continues to be exorbitant," he said. "Even the government hasn't come out with mining policy."

The state industry department had auctioned 22 sand quarries across the state for Rs. 335 crore, against a reserve price of Rs. 4 crore. "The disproportionate jump in price would make basic raw material for construction unaffordable and even small-house dream unrealistic," said Jakhar. "It will halt the construction activity across the state and add to the unemployment of the rural poor, who earn livelihood by doing labour on construction sites in off seasons for sowing and harvesting."

The owners of only seven of the 22 two quarries auctioned has deposit mandated security with the government, and the rest have gone into wilful default presumably, the opposition leader has said.
"The quarries have gone into the hands of sand mafia, which will exploit the mineral resource and sell it for monopoly prices in the state," said Jakhar.

"The government will loose revenue and common man will feel desperate."

"CM had given the house his personal assurance that the sand price would decline and the state government would put a limit on the cost of sand and gravel," said the state CLP leader. "The terms and conditions of the auction and the government's handling of the mater had given contractors the freedom to charge any price for sand."

Deputy CM Sukbhir Singh Badal had invited real-estate companies to Punjab to develop world-class townships, but actually he had asked them to walk into the sand mafia trap, said Jakhar.

He asked the CM to cancel the auction that "had resulted in monopolisation of the sand trade by the mafia".

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