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Punjab CM knows names of big fish in illegal mining, but not revealing, says Khaira

Captain, while on his way to Kartarpur in his official helicopter on Tuesday, spotted illegal mining on the banks of the Sutlej in Phillaur and Rahon.

punjab Updated: Mar 08, 2018 22:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Punjab CM,Khaira,Punjab politics
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira (HT File)

Two days after chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s tweet on illegal sand mining, leader of the opposition and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Thursday asked him to make public names of the main people involved in it.

“Arresting only truck drivers or karinde (agents) doesn’t mean that Captain has tightened the noose over illegal mining. Do you think these truck drivers alone have the courage to do these illegal activities which attracted the CM’s eye?” Khaira said while addressing a press conference here.

Captain, while on his way to Kartarpur in his official helicopter on Tuesday, spotted illegal mining on the banks of the Sutlej in Phillaur and Rahon. He tweeted pictures of JCB machines along the river, and the authorities later arrested more than 20 men from site besides booking the contractors of six mining sites in the vicinity.

“Intelligence agencies have given a complete report of people indulging in illegal mining in Punjab to the CM, but he has kept it with him just to blackmail leaders involved,” he said, claiming that, apart from Akali leaders, 11 Congress MLAs and a current minister are involved too.

“You must remember, during an assembly session when Akali leaders were creating a ruckus, Captain threatened to disclose names of their leaders involved in illegal mining, and the Akalis immediately sat down. It is clear that the CM knew who are the big fish involved, but doesn’t want to take action,” Khaira said.

“This trade has become lucrative involving an illegitimate amount of ₹100 crore to ₹1,000 crore a year, and Congress ministers are not able to step back from this business. The CM’s tweet has raised a big question, because even after it no strict action has been taken.”

Khaira said he has urged the assembly speaker to authorise members of the House committee to visit all quarries whether legal or illegal. “The mining or police departments cannot stop this illegal business as there are powerful people behind this trade. If we were authorised to visit the quarries, administrative and mining departments will be on their toes, and mining mafia will be scared.”

‘It is a deal’

Khaira, referring to clean chits given to Captain Amarinder in two major cases — Ludhiana City Centre and Amritsar Improvement Trust — during the SAD-BJP regime, said “compromises” made by opponents make the CM soft on Akali leaders.

“Captain was seen praising former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for constructing Jang-e-Azadi memorial, which is just a white elephant as Punjab needs education institutions and health facilities on priority, instead of such monuments,” he said, alleging that SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal “earned ₹400-500 crore” from these 10 memorials worth ₹10,000 crore “by giving their construction contract to a single company in which he has stake”.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 22:16 IST