"The Punjab Government under the visionary guidance of the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh is committed to crackdown on illegal mining and would soon formulate and bring out a comprehensive policy on mining taking into account views of all the stakeholders and emphasis would be on to weed out the lacunae in the previous mining policy. The main objective of the new mining policy would be to plug in the revenue loss caused to the state exchequer."This was disclosed here today by the Local Government Minister, Punjab, Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu while presiding over a meeting of the cabinet sub- committee on mining with all the Government as well as the private stakeholders associated with mining. The other members of the committee Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal and the Rural Development & Panchayat Minister, Punjab, Mr. Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa were also present in the meeting. The sub-committee earlier held a meeting with the officers of the concerned department including the Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr. Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary Mining & Geology Mr. Jaspal Singh, Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce Mr. Rakesh Verma, Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, Director-cum-Secretary Mining Mr. Kumar Rahul and Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board Mr. Amit Dhaka.
The Minister after giving a patient hearing to all the concerned stakeholders said that while framing the new policy all the suggestions put forward by them would be given due consideration. He further elaborated that this new policy would be in accordance with the sand mining framework issued by the Ministry of Mines, Government Of India in March 2018. The minister also added that before giving final touches to the policy, he would personally meet the officers of the Ministry of Mines on Monday and the cabinet sub-committee would again meet on Tuesday.Mr. Sidhu further said that the Chief Minister had sought report within one month from the sub-committee which is working dedicatedly to submit the same within a fortnight. He also made it clear that the government would have the right to fix the prices of sand. While quoting the mining policies of various states, Mr. Sidhu said that the state of Telangana came into existence in 2014 and at that time the it had a meager Rs. 10 crore income from mining but the Telangana Government formed a corporation connected with mining which saw the income of the state increasing in 2015-16 to Rs. 374 crore, in 2016-17 to Rs. 419 crore and now in 2017-18 to Rs. 1200 crore. Similarly, Haryana which is smaller than Punjab in size is minting Rs. 900 crore from mining. He assured that if a properly as well as comprehensively framed mining policy is implemented then Punjab can also earn a fortune from the mining sector. The minister also praised the crusher policy of Himachal Pradesh.
Mr. Sidhu instructed the officials of the department to brace up for the effective implementation of the proposed mining policy. Disclosing more, he said that there would be provision of e-Transport permit and by scanning the barcoded permit the following information would be displayed i.e. volume, origin point, destination and timing. The weightment slips issued in present policy are easy to tamper with. The entire sale would be regulated by online portal. It would accord a distinct identity to the trucks carrying sand. The minister reiterated that it would be ensured in the new policy that no overloaded truck/tipper crosses the roads which would put a stop to the damaged being caused to the roads before time. After the meeting, the sub-committee held another meeting with the contractors and crusher owners associated with mining and ascertained their views as well as suggestions. The contractors disclosed that the bidding is of 2 types i.e. Reverse Bidding and Progressive which has been challenged in the Hon'ble Supreme Court. They were of the view that the bidding should be of uniform type. They further brought to the notice of the minister that the amount of quantity present in the mining quarries auctioned earlier was not ascertained scientifically which lead to the contractors unable to get expected mining minerals. They also brought out that the no objection was not given by the owners of the sites which were allotted to them after bidding. Apart from this, they have problems to get the right of way up to the mining quarries.
The contractors on the occasion criticized the notification issued by the Department of Industries and Commerce on 18th March, 2015 regarding leveling of agricultural fields had no guidelines with regard to leveling and this lead to the ecological imbalance in Punjab ruining the fertile agricultural lands of state which led to the unregulated excavation of the soil. In some regions some hillocks have even been brought down by using the loopholes in this notification. They further brought to the notice of the minister that there is absolutely no registration of the shops indulging in the retail selling of sand in the towns and neither is any stock register maintained which accounts for illegal mining.The contractors on the occasion also brought to light that there is no liaison between the Government and the contractors to which the minister said that from now onwards, there would be a meeting between the government and the contractors at the state level once in every 6 months at state level while at the district level 1 meeting would be held every month to redress the grievances and ensure better liasion.