Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 15
Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh dullo have welcomed the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, ordering a preliminary inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the existence of the illegal checkpoints (nakas), near mining sites in Ropar district.
They said it has been made abundantly clear that the State Department of Mines & Geology and the State Home Department "have failed in their responsibility in curbing illegal mining and the sand mafia in Punjab".
On February 19, 2020, the Government of Punjab had informed the High Court that these ‘nakas’ or check-points do not exist in Ropar. An independent report submitted on August 11 by a judicial officer from the District Legal Services Authority, Ropar, disputed the submission by the Punjab Government, by proving that these nakas, in fact, do exist.
“The report submitted by the DLSA and the actions taken by the Honourable Punjab & Haryana High Court reinforces the statements made by Shamsher Singh Dullo and I, regarding the activities of the sand mafia in Punjab,” Bajwa said.
They have requested the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to not confine the preliminary inquiry by the CBI to just Ropar district, but to take suo motu cognisance and expand the ambit of the investigation to the whole state.
To prevent further damage to the environment and erosion of public trust with the institutions that govern the State, an independent and fair inquiry must be ordered into the operations of the sand mafia in Punjab, the duo said.
“Furthermore, the National Green Tribunal on July 10 had ordered the Punjab State Pollution Control Board to recover Rs 632 crore from three illegal mining sites in Ropar. Can the Chief Minister shed some light on the recovery proceedings against the contractors operating on those sites? The recovery of these funds would go a long way in helping the exchequer, since the Government is trying to save every penny and shilling,” the duo said.
“The actions of the sand mafia not only cause an economic loss to the exchequer but also have massive negative consequences for the environment. In September 2019 for example, over 4,000 hectares of crops in six districts of Punjab was destroyed due to the flooding of the Sutlej river. Ropar, was the worst affected of all the districts, with nearly 1,715 hectares were completely destroyed. Illegal sand mining is one of the chief causes of flooding in the district. As long as illegal sand mining continues unabated in the State, our farmers and law abiding civilians are the ones who face the consequences,” they added.
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