Amritsar, Jun 30 (PTI) SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday alleged that illegal mining was being carried out near the Beas river in Punjab, a charge vehemently denied by the state mining department.
He also filed a complaint against a state minister and a few Congress legislators at the Beas Police Station in this regard, a party statement said.
A spokesman of the mining department, however, accused Badal of trying to gain 'political mileage' with “unfounded allegations of illegal mining”.
The SAD leader earlier claimed that according to the National Green Tribunal, no mining activity should be done within five kilometers of a bridge, but in this case, sand was being mined within a distance of one kilometer.
Similarly, he said, the claim of desilting being done at the site was wrong as the same could not be done in running water.
“Truck drivers who were being illegally charged Rs 16,000 per truck filed a separate complaint against the sand mafia. Villagers also filed a complaint, saying panchayat land was being mined by the mafia without their permission,” the party statement stated.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader also made a surprise visit to the river bank during which he found a few hundred trucks, fork cranes and even a pipeline on floaters on the spot, it said.
Talking to reporters, he alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was allowing the sand mafia to indulge in daylight robbery of state resources.
“The CM was allowing this loot to please the AICC on one hand so that he could retain his chair as well as the legislators who were baying for his blood,” he said.
Badal urged the CM to tell people why no action was being taken against the mining mafia.
“Farmers told me that the police come to the spot every day but only to collect bribes. Even today, after I visited the spot and witnessed the illegal mining, I rang up the civil and police authorities to take action, but they sent their officers only after one-and-a-half hours. Even these officers tried to justify the illegal activity by saying desilting work was going on at the site,” he said.
Meanwhile, Punjab's mining department in Chandigarh said the site visited by the SAD chief was a legal one.
“According to the directions issued by the government, the work is being executed by the concessionaire of mining block M/s Friends and company. Revenue of Rs 34.4 crore per annum was generated from this mining block,” the department spokesman said.
“No illegal mining is being carried out in Amritsar district,” he asserted.
“It is hereby also important to mention that the revenue to the state from mining was Rs 30-40 crore per annum during the previous government, which had now increased by 10 times to Rs 300 crore per annum,” he said.
The department added that the de-silting site had been approved according to the decision of the state government to increase the carrying capacity of rivers in Punjab.
“There is a legal de-silting site Wazir Bhullar on the Beas river, having a total area of 69.70 hectares and its legal quantity is 13,63,358 metric tonnes. Out of which, the quantity extracted till date is 3,11,398 MT,” the spokesperson said.
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