M A I N   N E W S

Police protection to check illegal mining
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Supreme Court has directed the Haryana Government to provide police protection to a lease-holder of stone quarries in the Khanak area of Bhiwani district so that unauthorised mining can be stopped.

The apex court, which issued these directions on September 12, however, stipulated that the police protection would be provided on the payment of usual charges.

The directions came in an interim order on a special leave petition(SLP) filed by Messrs Baba Mungipa Mines and Minerals Company, which was granted the lease rights in an open auction a few years ago.

Since then the mining in the Khanak area has been mired in a controversy. The lease-holders claim that they have set up check posts to collect royalty on the minerals extracted from the area. But local residents complain that the lease-holders, who allegedly enjoyed political patronage in the previous regime, were collecting royalty unauthorisedly.

Several politicians of Bhiwani district, including the former Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal, termed the charges collected by the lease-holders as “Goonda tax”. The Congress leaders had promised that if their party came to power, they would ensure that no such “tax” was collected. After the Hooda Government came to power, the practice was stopped for some time. However, the lease-holders claim that it was not an unauthorised levy. Any excavation of minerals without paying royalty, they say, is illegal.

The lease-holders moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions to the police to take action against persons carrying out illegal mining. The court issued a directive to the Bhiwani police to take action against such persons. The court was informed by the police that it had lodged FIRs against such persons.

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