A Punjab minister on Friday blamed the Centre for "acute shortage" of sand and gravel in the state, saying the scarcity was because the Union government was delaying the clearance for mining sites.
"In the garb of environmental clearance, the UPA government is holding our mining sites for ransom," alleged state industry minister Madan Mohan Mittal.
In a statement issued here, the minister also hit out at Punjab Congress, saying instead of blaming the SAD-BJP government for the rise of sand and gravel prices, it should ask its own Union minister and leadership to clear the sites.
Mittal said that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had been given a list of 62 mining sites covering an area of 2,500 acres for environmental clearance, but the matter had been pending since January 2010.
He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had taken up the issue of clearance of mines with the Centre many times, but it has not been giving clearance with an eye on upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
"The Union ministry is repeatedly raising unnecessary objections over clearance," he said, adding, "Even the 17 mining sites covering 1,561 acres of land that had been cleared have not been transferred in the name of mining contractors.