The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday accused both Congress and Akali leaders of patronising illegal mining in Punjab, naming a few contractors who have alleged close links with political bigwigs.
Addressing a press conference, AAP’s Right to Information (RTI) wing co-convener Dinesh Chadha alleged contractors who were awarded quarries through legal auctions extracted manifold the quantum of sand and gravel from unaccounted locations with the backing of politicians.
These include Manveer Singh, a close associate of Akali leader Rozy Barkandi, who was awarded Bhalan quarry; Kuldeep Singh, brother of Akali leader Sarabjit Singh Makkar, who got Lodhipur quarry; and Baldev Raj, Ferozepur zila parishad chairman from the Shiromani Akali Dal, who was awarded Surewal quarry, alleged Chadha. All these quarries are in Rupnagar district.
Chadha also named four such contractors from the Congress. They include three-time MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon’s sons Karamvir Singh and Karanvir Singh, who were awarded quarries at Nangran and Mubarakpur; Barinder Dhillon, a close associate of Capt Amarinder Singh and presently in-charge of the party’s ‘Jago Punjab’ campaign, who got Dayapur quarry; and Sanjeev Bhardwaj from the Haryana Congress who was allotted Tiwana quarry in SAS Nagar district.
Chadha alleged these contractors were awarded the quarries through auction at throwaway prices, while they plundered hundreds of acres more than the auctioned area, in absence of any demarcation.
“The area of a notified quarry auctioned to them is so less that they cannot earn any profit, looking at the quantum notified to be extracted as per the agreement. And, thus, they explore whatever possible areas along the rivulets and in forest areas, right under the nose of the administration,” said the AAP leader.
Chadha also alleged official connivance, stating that the illegal consignments were not being stopped by either the police or district transport office staff at the ‘nakas’, which, he said, were “cosmetic”.
“Those who do not pay the extortion money to the mafia are the only ones to be stopped and booked under the mining act,” he said.