Punjab Cong MLA son’s stone crusher operating sans forest clearance
A stone crusher of Congress MLA from Baghapurana Darshan Singh Brar’s son is running illegally on a forest land at Bringli Patan village in Mukerian, reveal official records.
Brar Stone Crusher, which is registered in the name of Gurjant Singh Brar, son of the Baghapurana MLA, does not have a mandatory approval from the central government as required under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, said officials of the state forest department.
The forest department had imposed a penalty of around ₹6 lakh on the crusher for using delisted forest land for commercial purpose without obtaining a nod under the Forest (Conservation) Act after inspecting the site on September 1, 2020. HT has a copy of the report.
On September 29 last year, the north circle of forest department directed the divisional forest officer (DFO), Dasuya, to not allow the firm to use forest land for non-forest purpose until it gets clearance under Act.
Confirming the development, Dasuya DFO Atal Mahajan said the delisted forest land can be used only for cultivation and livelihood purposes and that too after approval from central government.
The firm in its proposal on February 29, 2019, had sought diversion of 0.405 hectares of the forest land for a stone crusher, citing it will generate employment for around 20 persons.
“The unit has applied for approval, but it is still pending,” said the DFO, adding: “I have written to the departments concerned, including the PSPCL, for disconnecting power supply to the stone crusher and mining department to take action, but to no avail.”
Pathankot mining officer Gagandeep, who has an additional charge of stone crushers in Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts, said: “It is not in our jurisdiction to take action on stone crushers for not having environment approvals.”
When contacted, Gurjant Singh Brar said the stone crusher was operating as per rules. “We have mandatory approvals, including forest clearance from the central government as required under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act,” he said.
Fails to deposit penalty-cum-royalty
Gurjant has also failed to deposit ₹1.56 crore royalty, including a penalty of ₹78 lakh, imposed by the mining department for allegedly obtaining minerals illegally at his stone crusher. The royalty was imposed on the firm after it failed to define the source of obtaining the minerals.
The firm was slapped two notices on July 9 and November 23 last year by the mining department citing violation of the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013. The department had alleged that the firm wrongfully obtained 1,30,298 tonnes of minerals and the royalty was pegged at ₹1,56,35,760. However, the royalty is yet to be deposited.
Mining officer Gagandeep said: “The department asked the firm to deposit the royalty after it failed to define the source of the raw material.”
On this, Gurjant said: “We have challenged the department’s decree of imposing the royalty. We had procured the raw material from a private firm. An appeal has been filed with the director of the mining department”.
MLA Darshan Singh Brar said: “We have filed an appeal against the department notice.”