The newly elected Punjab govt. on Saturday said prices of sand and gravel are rising in the state due to crackdown on illegal mining and will come down when more legal mines become operational.
Chairing a review meeting on mining Saturday, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said the recent spike in prices of sand and gravel, triggered by his government’s crackdown on illegal mining, would get reversed as more legal mines become operational over the next few days.
The Congress-led state government has come down heavily on the mining mafia and initiated several measures to curb illegal mining in the state, an official spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.
“This has led to a temporary spike in the price of sand/bajri, with even the legally operated mines cutting down on production as an excessively step in the face of the government action,” the spokesperson.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister directed the officials to formulate a new transparent mining policy within 30 days and asked them to submit its draft for review.
Officials of the Directorate of Mines, Department of Industries and Commerce, made a detailed presentation at the meeting highlighting the mining situation in the state and the measures being taken to check illegal mining.
The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh among others.
Various measures to improve supply situation, including the increase in number of legal mines, using modern digging techniques and enforcement of stringent rules to ensure that illegal mining becomes unviable were discussed at the meeting, the spokesperson said.
It was suggested that permits for desilting and dredging of sand be given to the irrigation department to augment sand supply and make ‘bajri’ available at affordable rates.
The officials informed Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that 59 mines are ready for auction and a 15-day notice has already been issued for the purpose. The Auction will be held on April 18, and allotment will take place on April 20. These mines will be operational by May 20.
Another 58 mines, whose environmental clearance is currently pending, are likely to be auctioned within 60 days thereafter and will become operational by mid-August.