PIL claims Bokhiria and his accomplices have not paid Rs. 252-cr. recoveries

The Gujarat High Court on Friday issued notice to State Water Resources and Agriculture Minister Babu Bokhiria on a public interest litigation petition alleging illegal mining of limestone. The PIL claimed that the Minister and his accomplices had not paid recoveries to the tune of Rs. 252 crore.

A Bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.B. Pardiwala asked the minister to file within three weeks his reply to the PIL which alleged that he and his associates had indulged in illegal mining of limestone in the Porbandar and Ranavav talukas through a network of firms in various names.

Mr. Bokhiria and three others were on June 15 convicted by a Porbandar court for a three-year jail term in a Rs. 54-crore illegal mining case. He has since appealed against the order. Another petition of alleged water theft is pending against him in the High Court.

The PIL, filed by Dilipsinh Chauhan, who runs an NGO, through his lawyer B.M. Mangukiya, alleged that Mr. Bokhiria and his accomplices had not paid their dues of Rs. 252 crore for illegal mining and that the State government was turning a blind eye to the issue.

The petition said that in 2005-2006 the then Porbandar Collector H.N. Chhibber unearthed a Rs. 700-crore illegal limestone mining scam on land not allotted or leased out to any bidder. It alleged that the Minister was involved in some cases, while illegal mining had been continuing in the district since 2001.

The PIL stated, “After the racket was unearthed by the Collector, some initial action was taken. However, the said proceedings have been undertaken in such a faulty manner that the orders have been challenged before the Central government and as a procedural fault was detected, the matter has been referred back to the State.”