To end mafia, Punjab to auction sand, gravel mines
To put an end to the domination of the sand and gravel mafia in the state, the Punjab government anounced on Saturday that 102 mines will be released through e-auction progressive bidding process.
"For the first time in the state's recent history, the Amarinder Singh government has decided to release additional annual sand/gravel to the tune of 2 crore tonnes, through e-auction progressive bidding of 102 mines, to address sand scarcity and curb the resultant steep hike in the price of the commodity," a state government spokesperson said here.
The move is expected to push up the mining business' contribution to the state exchequer multifold, with the official spokesperson indicating that it could generate total revenue of nearly Rs 300 to Rs 350 crore additional revenue for the state.
"Currently, on account of the rampant illegal mining in the state, the government is getting just about Rs 45 crore from the mining business," the spokesperson said, adding that the e-auction will be held online to restore faith and transparency in the system.
The 102 mines, located in 14 districts across the state, have an annual extractable quantity of nearly 2 crore tonnes and will be auctioned with a reserve price of Rs 170 crore.
The e-auction for these mines will be conducted for registered bidders on May 19 and 20 by Punjab Infotech through a digital platform.
"The extractable sand released from these 102 mines will supplement the existing and operational 87 mines with a total capacity of 1 crore tonnes. This will help plug the demand-supply gap in the state and will check the sand prices, while ensuring elimination of the illegal mining that had become widespread under the previous regime," the spokesperson said.
The Directorate of Mining, Department of Industries and Commerce is also working on stringent measures to check illegal mining, which was rampant in the past decade during the rule of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government.
The sand mafia, backed by political bosses, prospered unchecked at the cost of massive loss of crores to the state exchequer.