Dharamsala, September 22
The issue of illegal mining in Kangra district has caught the attention of higher authorities after the collapse of a railway bridge over the Chakki rivulet last month. As per official data, the fine collected by the district police in such cases has gone up by 40 per cent. However, despite the higher realisation of fine, there has been no let-up in illegal mining. Information procured from the police revealed in 99 per cent of the cases, offenders were let off after the imposition of fine and only 1 per cent cases reached the court.
As per the data, till August 2021, the police had caught 971 offenders and Rs 57.82 lakh was realised as fine. Of the 971 accused, just 15 were sent to the court and the remaining were let off. Similarly, till August this year, 975 persons were nabbed and only nine were sent to the court, while the remaining 962 were let off. The police collected Rs 93.24 lakh fine on this account. There has been a sudden spurt in illegal mining cases in August after the collapse of the Chakki bridge with the police filing 236 cases. Of these, only four were sent to the court.
Former SPs, including Sanjeev Gandhi, had written to the government to amend the relevant Act and allow the police to book the accused in illegal mining cases for theft of government property and make it a non-bailable offence. At present, under the Mines and Mineral Act, illegal mining is a compoundable offence and the offenders are let off after the imposition of a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh. However, Rs 5 lakh fine has never been imposed in Kangra district. Deputy Commissioner Nipun Jindal recently directed the officials to book the accused for theft of government property.
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