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Posted at: Mar 9, 2018, 1:54 AM; last updated: Mar 9, 2018, 1:54 AM (IST)

Crackdown triggers mud-slinging in Cong

Crackdown triggers mud-slinging in Cong
Nawanshahr officials have reiterated that the mining spotted by the Chief Minister was legal. File photo

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8

The crackdown on illegal mining, ordered by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, has triggered a blame game within the ruling Congress. Three party MLAs and a Cabinet minister — accused of patronising mining contractors in Nawanshahr, Ropar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana — have, in turn, alleged that six other Congress legislators are involved in the malpractice.

The allegations and counter-allegations have led to the suspension of mining operations, even as civil and police officers in Nawanshahr have reportedly informed the CM that the mining witnessed by him during a chopper ride on Tuesday was legal. The quarries in question were auctioned by the government, but earth-moving machines were used without authorisation for excavating sand and gravel.

They reiterated their claim here this evening during a meeting of top civil and police officers and members of the Cabinet sub-committee newly set up to check illegal mining.

The “minor illegality” of using earth-moving machines could soon be legalised by making amendments in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Though the Act forbids the use of heavy machinery for extracting sand and gravel in mines that are less than 62.5 hectares, the state government is considering allowing the use of excavators for the purpose as officers pointed out that it was impossible to do the same manually. The officers are also learnt to have pointed fingers at officials of the Mining Department for failing to give figures of the actual sand and gravel allowed for excavation from an auctioned quarry. Some DCs said the government should let the legal quarries run, otherwise the chances of price of sand and gravel escalating were high. Suggestions of GPS tracking of tippers and scientific demarcation of sites were also made.

Official sources said the Chief Minister listened to the officers for almost two hours and reiterated that they need not tolerate political interference in their investigation or action against those indulging in illegal mining. He announced that a Guardian of Governance would be deputed at each mining site to check and report illegal activity and the government would address all shortcomings in the mining policy.

SDM, 2 police officers under scanner

Capt Amarinder Singh has marked a Vigilance inquiry into the alleged nexus between officers and the mining mafia in Dera Bassi block of Mohali. He has ordered the immediate shunting out of SDM Paramdeep Singh, DSP PS Bal and SHO Pawan Kumar for their alleged complicity with those indulging in illegal mining.

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