Tribune News Service
Ropar, November 4
Illegal mining is continuing in Ropar district with mafia even setting up nakas on all major roads near main crusher zones to charge protection money.
Sources said the mafia was charging Rs 4 per cubic feet for sand and gravel as protection money. Anyone who paid the amount was allowed to carry on mining in the Sutlej, Swan and Sarsa rivers, they said.
The sources said the mining mafia had set up nakas on all major roads near the crusher zones of Bharatgarh, Agampur, Saidpur, Algran, Swarha and Khera Kalmot. “All drivers of trucks and tippers, carrying sand and gravel, have to present the papers regarding the material at the nakas. The mafia charges the protection money as per the documents,” said the sources.
The mafia has collected over Rs 20 crore as protection money since the nakas were set up on August 21. Sand and gravel worth over Rs 80 crore have been shipped illegally from the district.
Interestingly, in the last auction, 10 quarries fetched merely Rs 49 crore. The work in these quarries is yet to start due to the lack of environmental clearance.
A visit on Sunday revealed that the riverbed near Agampur, Algran and Bhallari villages had been dug up. At Algran, sand was being loaded on tippers from the Swan riverbed near the Kahanpur Khui-Nangal road. The mining posed a great danger to the foundation of a bridge, located just 200 metre away.
A resident said the digging of the riverbed was continuing round the clock.
Several officials said they were unable to take action due to political influence. Many of them confirmed that the mafia had set up nakas after a senior politician visited Ropar in August.
Deputy Commissioner Sumeet Jarangal and executive engineer Rupinder Singh Pabla denied any laxity on their part in checking the mining mafia.
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