Punjab govt. behind illegal sand mining: SAD

‘Goonda tax’ being collected at the behest of Congress leaders, alleges Badal

December 11, 2019 11:08 pm | Updated 11:08 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

SAD chief Sukhbir Badal.

SAD chief Sukhbir Badal.

The Shiromani Akali Dal members on Wednesday staged a protest against the Congress government in the State, accusing its leaders of “patronising illegal sand mining trade and the mafia.”

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal, who led the sit-in protest in Mohali, alleged that reckless illegal mining activity were rampant in Mohali and “goonda tax” was being collected at the behest of Congress leaders.

“Illegal sand mining is going on in Mohali even though no mines were operational in the district in government records. While mining was being done, the same had not been given government clearances till now, which means all mining taking place in Mohali was illegal,” he alleged.

Mr. Badal said environmental clearance had been deliberately not given to the miners and they were allowed to mine sand illegally without paying a rupee to the State. “Illegal mining is even being allowed in forest areas, people backed by Congress are indulging in this practice,” he said.

Dera Bassi MLA N.K. Sharma said that the “goons” in the area had become so bold that they had put up ‘nakas’ (collection barriers) on roads to collect ‘goonda tax’,” he alleged.

Separately, a Ropar based advocate and RTI activist Dinesh Chadha told The Hindu that similar kind of illegal sand mining and collection of “goonda tax” was rampant in Ropar district.

“In January this year on my petition, the National Green Tribunal had asked a joint committee — comprising members of the Central Pollution Control Board and Punjab State Pollution Control Board — to take remedial measures to stop illegal mining and assess damage in Ropar district. The tribunal had also ordered action against the erring officials within two months, but no concrete action has been taken so far by the State government,” said Mr. Chadha.

Status report

“I had recently again approached the NGT, complaining that the State government as well as other parties have failed in implementing NGT’s previous orders in the matter. Today, the NGT has issued notices to State government, directing it to submit a status report within four weeks,” said Mr. Chadha.

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