Sand mining ‘scam’: Punjab govt admits it allowed auction of 18 mines on single bids
HT had reported that a majority of these single bids were bagged by friends and family of Congress MLAs and that the earnest money was kept high to deter small bidders.Updated: Jun 05, 2017 17:46 IST
Admitting that it allowed auction of 18 mines on single bids, as only one bidder deposited earnest money (EMD) for these mines, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said it was done after “due deliberation” as these mines entailed a total quantity was 79.78 lakh tonnes.
“Considering their large capacities, it was decided after due deliberation to allow the sole bidders to bid for these 18 mines,” Amarinder Singh said in a statement.
HT had reported that a majority of these single bids were bagged by friends and family of Congress MLAs and that the earnest money was kept high to deter small bidders.
According to the government, of these 18, not a single bid was finally received for the two Hoshiarpur mines during the e-auction, leaving 16 mines with H1 (highest) bidder. In the remaining 71 mines — 89 mines could be auctioned out of 102 as the remaining did not receive any earnest money — multiple bidders ranging from two to 32 deposited the EMD.
However, according to rules, there should be a minimum of three bidders for the auction to take place. Rajasthan had last year called off its auction as it did not get minimum three bidders required for the mines put on the block.
The CM has also denied e-auctions had been compromised to benefit certain individuals.
HT has reported how the mining department had issued provisional acceptance letter to some bidders such as Balaji Minerals and Satwinder Mavi, despite their defaulting in payment of the 50% instalment as highest bidder for a mine each.
The department’s defence, as per the statement, was that since each bid was made individually, each acceptance letter was also issued individually.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal, after a core committee meeting of the SAD-BJP alliance on Saturday, said they would “expose” how the auctions were compromised to benefit Congress MLAs.