Illegal mining: Probe report gathers dust at Punjab vigilance bureau
A probe report that could expose the nexus between the sand mining mafia and officials of different departments is gathering dust at the Punjab vigilance bureau headquarters here for more than three years now.punjab Updated: Mar 11, 2016 20:47 IST
A probe report that could expose the nexus between the sand mining mafia and officials of different departments is gathering dust at the Punjab vigilance bureau headquarters here for more than three years now.
In November 2012, the VB’s Ludhiana team had registered a first information report (FIR) in a case pertaining to “plundering of hundreds of acres in 40 villages along the Sutlej in Ludhiana district.” It named about 20 individuals, besides the departments of police, mining, rural development and panchayats, forests and public works mentioning “a large- scale connivance of officials” with alleged accused.
The VB, so far, has not filed challan in the case. A VB officials in Ludhiana told HT that “a detailed investigation report for filing the challan was sent to the VB headquarters around six months back”.
When asked why the probe took so long, he attributed the delay to “massive and challenging task of looking into the connivance angle”.
IG (vigilance) AS Rai acknowledged that the probe report is awaiting headquarters’ clearance. He, however, stated that they had to further ‘work upon’ the preliminary probe report annexed with the FIR. “The investigation is on,” he said.
Then DC and his role
The HT is also in possession of documents revealing how in May 2010 the then Ludhiana deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari had “falsely stated to the industries department that the quarries were demarcated in the entire Ludhiana district in compliance with the Punjab and Haryana high court orders.”
“The DCs of each district and the revenue officers shall provide every possible assistance to the mining officer-general manager, industries, to complete the exercise of demarcating quarries/mines within a month,” the high court had stated in its orders dated April 4, 2010.
Tiwari’s letter to then principal secretary industries SS Channy said:— “The demarcation of all quarries in 26 villages in the district had been conducted and the ‘khasra’numbers (revenue land record) concerned sent to the general manager (industries), Ludhiana”.
In reality, no demarcation was done. The DC’s letter helped the mining contractors to plunder hundreds of acres illegally in 40 villages.
The VB report mentions the name of Ludhiana-based mining contractor Prashant Joshi for being allegedly involved in large-scale plundering in Jodhwal village.
Tiwari, who is presently special principal secretary with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, told HT that he did not remember the matter as he had left the charge (of Ludhiana DC) three years ago.
“The current DC (of Ludhiana) can tell after seeing the record,” he added.
As per the documents procured under the RTI Act on February 1, 2016, the Ludhiana DC had said: “No demarcation of the said quarries in 26 villages had been done and there is no such record available in the office”.
The offices of the revenue department and the mining wing of the industries department in Ludhiana also did not have any record related to the demarcation of quarries, as per the RTI documents.