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Faridkot administration turns blind eye towards illegal mining; farmers say they fear ‘mafia’

Dozens of trucks carrying unaccounted sand and gravel consignments worth nearly Rs 5 lakh move out of the area every day, say officials who refuse to be named

punjab Updated: Feb 17, 2018 12:24 IST
Gagandeep Jassowal
Gagandeep Jassowal
Hindustan Times, Faridkot
Faridkot administration,illegal mining,quarry
The adjoining cultivated land faces the threat of a massive cave-in, as has been reported by HT last month too. Local farmers say they fear the mafia who purportedly enjoy political patronage. (HT File )

Area under illegal mining adjoining an allotted quarry in Dod village, 15km from the district headquarters, is expanding as the administration has turned a blind eye. Even a “raid” on February 6 has failed to have effect, as was evident upon a visit to the site on Friday.

Dozens of trucks carrying unaccounted sand and gravel consignments worth nearly Rs 5 lakh move out of the area every day, say officials who refuse to be named. While just a 2-acre quarry was auctioned for mining of sand at Dod, nearly 10 acres have been devastated by the sand mafia.Contractor Hira Singh is using heavy excavators too in violation of rules that say the digging has to be done manually.

Must read | HT reporter chased, threatened by sand mafia in Faridkot village

The adjoining cultivated land faces the threat of a massive cave-in, as has been reported by HT last month too. Local farmers say they fear the mafia who purportedly enjoy political patronage.

Additional deputy commissioner Keshav Hingonia, who is the nodal officer of mining here, didn’t respond to repeated calls and messages. He was supposed to submit a report of the February 6 raid to the deputy commissioner, Faridkot.

However, site manager Mandeep Singh, alias Sunny Monga, of Kotkapura said excavators and other machines were being used only to fill up the site with gravel after digging out the sand. “It is being done by the land owner, Daljit Singh. We are not violating any rules and regulations,” he claimed.

DC Rajiv Prashar said, “We will take strict action if any irregularities are found and have also directed the general manager of the mining wing to look into the matter at the earliest.”

llegal mining: 56 FIRs lodged, 13 sites cancelled in 10 months in Ferozepur

Fifty six cases were registered against the mining mafia while 13 sites were cancelled for violation of rules in Ferozepur in the last 10 months in a bid to curb rampant illegal mining in the border district. Besides, the administration imposed Rs 13.50 crore fine for violations.

The reports of illegal mining have been pouring in even as chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh government in the run-up to the assembly elections had made curbing grave illegal mining a major poll plank. “After receiving complaints, we carried out raids at 33 approved sand quarries besides those being run illegally.

Gross irregularities such as digging below the approved ground level were reported,” said industry and mining general manager (Ferozepur) Gurjant Singh. “We imposed Rs 13.50 crore fine on those into mining people and landlords,” he said.

“After the administration tightened the noose around the sand mafia, they have increased the sand rates and the common man is again bearing the brunt as they have to pay extra or delay construction,” said Sapan Vats, a mining site supervisor.

“A truckload of sand that earlier cost Rs 11,000-12,000 now costs Rs 20,000,” said Jaswinder Singh, a construction contractor. “To meet the rising demand, a proposal has been sent to the authorities to approve 81 sites,” said Ferozepur deputy commissioner Ramvir.

(With inputs from Ferozepur by Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar)

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 12:23 IST