CHANDIGARH:    Punjab Mining Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria on Saturday lashed out at Sukhbir Singh Badal for his desperate attempts to gain lost political ground in the state, which Akalis would never get.

In a statement issued here Mining Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria said that the sites visited by Sukhbir Badal in Hoshiarpur district, where he made hue and cry of illegal mining, were auctioned in the previous regime of Akalis. He pointed out that there were several attempts by some people to continue illegal mining but the Department acted swiftly besides imposing heavy penalties. The Minister said this was the only reason that Akalis went to their favorite mining sites and there was no machinery as well as illegal mining as claimed by the Akalis.

Pointing out that the entire Punjab is well known to the fact that the word ‘sand mafia’ was originated in the Akali government, the Minister said that Akalis were looted the Punjab with both hands through sand mafia. Sarkaria mentioned that under the regime of Badal’s the state exchequer was receiving the revenue to the tune of Rs. 35 to 40 crore annually, which had now increased to 10 fold in the Congress Government. Sukhbir Badal knows that the transparency ensured by the Congress Government in mining activities would become an issue in the upcoming assembly polls, said the Minister adding that Sukhbir was making useless visits just for political motives.

Sarkaria said that the sites visited by Sukhbir were actually established in their own regime while the Congress Government had already framed conditions for mining contractors, who were earning good income besides supplying sand on affordable prices to the people. He also clarified that Sukhbir Badal was trying to mislead the people of Punjab by visiting those sites, which were of Akali regime and the Mining Department had already initiated actions against such sites.

The Hoshiarpur Mining Officer also revealed that the quarries shown by Sukhbir Singh Badal were before 2016 and the Department had taken action against these sites. He said that these sites were auctioned by the Punjab Government between 2008 and 2011. He said that Department had served the recovery notices of Rs. 1454400 in village Jiwanwal, Rs. 4043400 in village Bariana Rs. 230010 in village Dhamian and Rs. 223050 in village Sandhwal. He said that the Rs. 111990 had been recovered from village Bariana, Rs. 192000 from village Sandhwal, Rs. 303407 from village Jiwanwal and subsequently deposited in the state exchequer. He said that a recovery notice of Rs. 15635760 had been issued in village Baringali. Apart from these, the Mining Department issued notices worth Rs. 53659620.

The Spokesperson said that the sites visited by the Sukhbir Singh Badal had been allotted through e-auction to Prime Vision Industry Private Limited, 312, 3rd Floor, Vishal Chamber, P-1, Sector 18, Noida and no illegal mining and machinery was found from these sites. The Punjab Government has also established an Enforcement Directorate to check illegal mining, which conducted several raids and seized machinery being used for illegal mining. A webportal has also been created to register complaints regarding illegal mining activities, if any.

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