A team from the union ministry of environment and forests has drafted a report on illegal mining in Punjab. The matter would soon be taken up with the state to curb the menace that is "plundering river beds and forest lands".
The union ministry's northern region additional principal chief conservator of forests AK Goel here confirmed that the three-member team visited vulnerable areas in SAS Nagar, Rupnagar and Nawanshahr districts.
"The central team paid a visit following media reports on unabated mining in restricted areas of the state," Goyal said.
The team was earlier scheduled to visit Pathankot as well, but returned to New Delhi after its one-day tour.
Hindustan Times has been carrying reports on illegal mining in Pathankot, besides areas along the Sutlej river in Rupnagar and Ludhiana districts.
Sources from the vulnerable areas told HT that the mafia had stopped mining till August 22 on the Sutlej river bed in the Anandpur Sahib block after the news about the central team's visit spread.
Alowal, Sarsa Nangal, Agampur, Algran and Khaunpur Khui in Rupnagar district are some of the many illegal sites used by the mining mafia to supply sand and gravel at exorbitant prices across the state.
The HT team has also been spotting tippers carrying sand and gravel without valid documents despite prohibition orders during night hours.
The state government already faces a public interest litigation (PIL) on illegal mining in the Punjab and Haryana high court. The court had last week given a two-week ultimatum to the special investigation team (SIT) to probe "the nexus" due to which mining was taking place at illegal sites.