Punjab CM orders crackdown on illegal sand mining
With an aim at cracking down on illegal mining and tax evasion by miners, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered the setting up of special multi-department joint teams in all the districts of the state.
The teams, which will be headed by the respective deputy commissioners, would comprise officials from taxation, mining, revenue and police departments, an official spokesperson disclosed, adding that they would be mandated to set up nakas to check illegal mining and evasion of taxes.
Illegal mining and tax evasion had led to heavy losses for the state exchequer and needed to be checked on priority, said the chief minister.
The chief minister warned that no political interference would be tolerated in the matter and instructed officials to initiate the crackdown on priority, without delay.
He also directed increased vigil on stone crushers, which are located in the three districts of Rupnagar, SAS Nagar and Pathankot, said the spokesperson after a review of the mining department during a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Finance.
To streamline the functioning of the mining department, and make it more effective, the meeting also held discussions on a proposal to set up a new mining department, with manpower to be drawn in from various related departments.
Apprising the meeting of details of revenue generation from the mining business this financial year, the department revealed that with two more auctions scheduled in this fiscal — on February 19 and March 15 — the total revenue generation in 2017-18 would increase many fold.
The mines to be auctioned on February 19 include 48 sand mines (1.64 crore tonnes) and three gravel (0.2 crore tonnes), while the March 15 auctions will have 145 mines (2.7 crore tonnes) of sand and 18 mines (0.2 crore tonnes) of gravel being open to bidding.
Also, the department officials informed about as many as 34 of the mines auctioned so far, which they said was not yet operational.
However, once the production would start in the above mentioned mines, according to the department officials, the revenue generation would be further augmented.
“The earnings could go up to Rs 600-800 crore with just 10 per cent increase in mining production,” they said.
The chief minister directed steps to ensure immediate operationalization of auctioned mines, and also to initiate wide publicity and confidence-building measures for the forthcoming auctions.
The need for identification of more gravel mines was also discussed to plug the demand-supply gap.