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‘Punjab losing crores to inter-state gravel mafia’

Both Sidhu and Jakhar had sought Himachal’s policy pattern at a press conference in Jalandhar early this month.

punjab Updated: Feb 25, 2018 14:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
inter-state gravel mafia,gravel mafia,stone crushers
A stone-crushing unit defunct near Pathankot.(HT Photo)

Saying that Punjab loses crores to the “bajri (gravel) mafia”, owners of stone crushers in the state have demanded a policy on the lines of Himachal Pradesh to charge the industry on the basis of power consumption. The state charges Rs 7 per unit of power consumed by them. A crushing unit owner from Pathankot, requesting anonymity, said the mafia is now demanding Rs 7 lakh monthly payment from them for two chits a day (two truckloads of stones).

“There are over 1,000 crushers in Punjab and most are closed. The mining policy of Punjab notified in March 2015 had allowed farmers and other landowners to dispose of excess minor mineral during levelling of their fields. But it was stopped after the Congress came to power. The supply is now coming from neighbouring states, and the mafia is extracting money from trucks entering Punjab,” said Gurnam Singh of Hajipur Stone Crushers Union.

Another owner, Harpreet Singh, said he has invested Rs 15 crore in his unit. “We are reeling under heavy debt. I am paying Rs 15 lakh as yearly installment. We have met cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar to seek a mining policy to cover our industry too. It will end the mafia rule and earn Rs 50 crore monthly for the state from gravel alone. In a year, it would be nearly 600 crore,” he said.

Both Sidhu and Jakhar had sought Himachal’s policy pattern at a press conference in Jalandhar early this month. Sidhu says Punjab’s coffers are empty and yet there is no policy for stone crushers. “If the money is not coming to state coffers, then where is it going?” he said. A note circulated by him at a cabinet meet soon after the government was formed had pegged the revenue from Himachal model at Rs 500 crore.

Jakhar too said stone crushing needs to be regulated. “During Akali regime, the jathedars and their henchmen would make money and not the state. We do not want to let loose inspector raj in state, but it makes sense to know how much stone is crushed and charge them directly,” he said.

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 14:53 IST