Intensifying his government’s crackdown on illegal mining in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered a total ban on mining from 7.30 p.m. to 5 a.m, also directed the police and Enforcement Directorate (Mining) to take strict action against those found engaged in mining operations at night.
The Chief Minister, who chaired a high-level meeting on Friday to review the illegal mining situation in the state, asked the Mining Department to strictly ensure that no mining is undertaken by any authorized contractor in river beds or other areas after 7.30 pm and before 5.00 am. Warning of stringent action against violators, the Chief Minister said anyone, including officers and police personnel, found conniving in illegal sand mining operations should also be dealt with strictly.
While directing the DGP and the newly constituted Enforcement Directorate Mining to crack down strictly on any night mining activity, the Chief Minister, however, ordered that there should be no hinderance to the smooth movement of sand and gravel during the night in view of the high level of construction activity going on in the state. Availability of the material at affordable price should also be ensured, he told the department, directing Principal Secretary Mining to coordinate with authorized contractors to bring down the prices of sand and gravel.
During the meeting, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Minister, Water Resources, apprised the Chief Minister that the creation of Enforcement Directorate for Mining had made a positive impact on the ground in curbing illegal sand mining activities. He assured the Chief Minister that sand mining operations in the state will be conducted smoothly, and smooth transportation of sand will be ensured.
DGP Dinkar Gupta said all the Commissioners of Police and SSsP have been directed to take action against the unscrupulous elements involved in illegal sand mining. He said that additional manpower will now be deployed to check any night sand mining operations, in line with the Chief Minister’s directives.
ADGP-cum-Director ED Mining RN Dhoke informed the Chief Minister that 70 FIRs have been registered against 93 persons involved in illegal sand mining activities and 70 vehicles have been confiscated since the formation of the Directorate. Drones are being used to carry out the photography of illegal sand mining sites to assess the extent of excavation done and unauthorized movement of minor minerals at the inter-state borders of Punjab has been curbed substantially.
Notably, the ED was set up in the Mining & Geology Wing of Water Resources Department to strictly enforce the laws against illegal mining and thus help in ramping up the state’s revenues. Working closely with the Mining Wing of Water Resources department, the ED has been mandated to check that those involved in sand and gravel business do not overcharge on the sale price ceiling prescribed in the Mining Policy. Besides, the ED also develops strategies, measures and methods to effectively achieve the above objectives in coordination with Director Mining, Chief Engineers dealing with mining and District Level Illegal Mining Enforcement Committees’ under the Deputy Commissioners.