Saturday, April 28, 2012

Minister unearths racket of illegal sand mining in Fazilka

By Daily Post
Manoj Tripathi


On Friday afternoon when Forest and Labour Minister Surjit Kumar Jayani impounded two tractor-trolleys laden with sand near Khui Khera village on the Fazilka-Abohar National Highway, he thought that it was a small matter and could be solved immediately, but when the labourers revealed the truth of alleged sand mafia, he was shocked. Jayani immediately made telephonic calls to the police and civil officials and brought the matter to their notice. Within an hour several calls from the big-wigs having political affiliation manning the bussiness of sand were received by the minister to push the matter under carpet. 

When Daily Post inquired about the matter, it was revealed that the mining contractors operating in clear violation of laws were not only digging out sand along the roads in many villages in this newly created district leaving deep gorges in the area and threatening the ecology but were also charging exorbitantly from the consumers.

On a visit to Badha, Mojam and Salem Shah villages, this correspondent saw up to 40-foot deep gorges dug out for sand to be sold for commercial purpose. While nearly half a dozen tractor-trolleys were being loaded in the area at a time. Labourers working at the site said no official of the Mining Department, ever visited the area owing to the apparent collusion of authorities. 

Digging along roads has been going on unchecked which is in violation of mining rules. Industries Department of Ferozepur is the main agency to issue mining contract to the miners. While the Mining Department auctioned the sand mining contract in Ferozepur (including Fazilka) and Moga districts after specific direction from theHigh Court, the going rate for sand has shot up almost 20 times in the last 6-7 years. 

Nowadays contractors are charging Rs. 1200 for tractor-trailer and Rs 8000 for a truck. It may be mentioned here that the government. has fixed Rs 2.60 per cubic foot to be charged by a contractor. The government. price includes Rs 1 as labour cost, 80 paisa for contractor and 80 paise for the owners of the mining land. But in clear violation, contractors are charging almost Rs 8 per cubic feet from the consumers.

It is estimated that around 150 trucks and 250 tailors of sand are being excavated in Badha, Salemshah, Miani basti, Mojam, Killi, and Gatti villages daily and 1000 labourers are working for the contractor.

It was also revealed that in some villages Panchayat had leased 4-5 acre to private contractors but with the connivance of the authorities contractors are digging 30/40 acres of village land in certain places. 

No comments: