Praful Chander Nagpal
Fazilka, November 11
After a month of its reopening, the only legal sand quarry of Fazilka district, situated at Gariba Sandar village in Jalalabad subdivision, has been shut. There are allegations of digging of sand beyond the stipulated depth. The quarry was being run by the Mining Department.
The desired amount of sand has already been excavated from the quarry for the current year. Thus, the activities have been stopped and the quarry shut. Alok Chaudhary, Dist mining officer
Village sarpanch Surjeet Singh said the quarry had been shut from November 9 and no activities were being carried out around the area, where earlier hundreds of tractor-trailers and labourers could be seen round-the-clock. The quarry had been shut in the past as well, but after pressure from different quarters and much hue and cry over the non-availability of sand, which resulted in halting of construction works in the area, the government had reopened it on October 1.
Brushing aside the allegations of going beyond the stipulated depth for excavating sand, District Mining Officer (DMO) Alok Chaudhary said the quarry was being run by the government and it did not violate the laid down guidelines/norms.
He said the sand could be excavated upto three-metre depth in routine cases, but villagers alleged that the digging was being done beyond the stipulated depth.
Excavation work been suspended on October 19 on the allegation that between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per tractor-trailer was being charged by labourers as extra loading charges from the tractor operators, which went against the norms.
Later, after senior department officials intervened in the matter, the work was resumed on October 20. After suspension of the work, the then District Mining Officer was also transferred from Fazilka to Pathankot.
Sand was being sold in the area at exorbitant prices, much higher than the government price of Rs 9.45 per cubic feet, including loading charges.
Allegedly, illegal mining is still being carried out in the area. However, the DMO said the sand was being purchased from a legal sand quarry in Ferozepur district, Ghazniwala quarry, situated around 20 km away from the Gariba Sandar quarry.
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