In a crackdown on illegal mining in and around Pathankot, the district administration conducted raids on Wednesday and got five FIRs lodged against the owners of stone-crushers and the land where quarrying was going on illegally.
On the directions of secretary (industry) AR Talwar, a team led by Pathankot SDM Ravinder Pal Singh Walia has been conducting raids since Tuesday evening after HT highlighted how the mining mafia was benefiting from the practice.
Though no crusher was found operating on Tuesday due to power cut, the next day the team came across many areas in the vicinity of stone-crushers where the quarries had not been dug as per the rules.
The raiding team also impounded a JCB machine and a tipper in Berian village. Walia said they would take legal action against the violators. "We conducted surprise raids in Madhopur, Kerian and Berian and found that stone-crushers had mushroomed in these areas. We found that owners of two stone-crushers had dug up the material beyond the permissible limit from the land belonging to eight persons.
The names of the people to whom this material was to be supplied will also be included in the FIRs once we identify them. This is just the beginning. We will get more FIRs lodged against the violators in coming days. We have identified more areas where illegal mining is taking place," he said.
On the Kathua deputy commissioner's allegation that the Punjab government was going soft on violators, the SDM said he had urged the Pathankot DC to take up the issue with his counterpart and constitute joint inspection teams to check the practice.
"There are jurisdictional problems. For instance, 17 spans of a bridge over the Ravi are located in J&K and eight in Punjab. There should be proper demarcation and coordination between the two states," he said.
New mining policy on lines of HP on anvil
Patiala: Industry secretary AR Talwar told HT on Wednesday that the Punjab government would soon formulate a new mining policy.
"We are going to follow the Himachal Pradesh mining policy, as per which a particular area is allotted to a stone-crusher owner. Under the new policy, the mining department will give no-objection certificates (NOCs) to stone-crushers and allot areas so that we can limit the number of crushers according to the area available for mining. The draft of the policy has been submitted to officers for comments," he said.
Talwar said the Punjab government was planning to auction more areas for mining. "The pollution control board has already conducted hearings to issue NOCs and we will soon get permission from the environment ministry to auction more sites," he said.