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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Punjab plunges into sand crisis as AAP govt sits on mines

The sand and gravel shortage in Punjab that has led to the skyrocketing of prices and stalled construction activity has resulted from the state government’s failure to activate mining operations from at least 50 riverside mining sites for which environment clearance was received way back in May 2017.

Mining Minister Harjot Bains, whose portfolio was changed on Saturday, primarily focused on penalising officers and other employees to curb illegal mining but ignored the excavation of fresh sand, creating a crisis in the construction industry. Many skilled and unskilled workers have lost jobs as many construction projects have slowed or come to a halt.

Besides the minister, the Principal Secretary Krishen Kumar IAS was also transferred. The two were held responsible for the rising prices of sand and gravel. The construction activity in the state has virtually come to a halt as contractors found projects turning unviable.

Taking penal action against the Department’s staff, Secretary Krishen Kumar suspended about 35 officers and employees of various ranks. He charge-sheeted over 300 and transferred 45 of his staff. It created an atmosphere of fear and non-cooperation in the mining department. But, at the same time, illegal mining in Punjab stopped almost completely.

However, in their zeal to stop illegal activities they have ended up killing the sand mining industry and triggering a crisis in the construction industry. has gained access to a list of 19 dormant but ready-to-operate mining sites located in the Satluj, Ravi, and Beas rivers having a sanctioned capacity of 108. 58 lakh metric tonnes. These mining sites, if made functional, could ameliorate people’s suffering and generate employment. The names of villages and districts where these mining sites exist are:

Village Hujra, District Ludhiana, Gorsain Khan Mohammad, District Ludhiana, Village Danewal, District Jalandhar village Rampur, District Jalandhar, Village Chak Budala, District Jalandhar, village Chakli Kasab, District Ludhiana, village Maun Sahib, District Jalandhar, village Mianwal, District Jalandhar, Village Akkuwal, District Ludhiana, village Bounkar Gujran, District Ludhiana, village Hittewal, District Ludhiana, village Baghian, District Ludhiana, village Bukhu Khurd, District, Ludhiana, village Arzidarya Pragpur, District Nawanshehr, village Gurchak, District Gurdaspur, village Kanian Hussaini, District Ludhiana, village Boont, District Jalandhar, village Rarra, District Hoshiarpur, and village Kot Ragada, District Amritsar.

Knowledgeable sources in the mining business disclose that the environment clearance certificates for mining sites covering an area (Rakba) up to 25 hectares are given by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). The Union Ministry of Environment clears sites spread over more than 25 hectares. The Deputy Commissioners can grant clearance certificates to sites spread over less than 5 hectares.

The prevalent sand and gravel rates, as of the date in SAS Nagar (Mohali) show that Coarse Sand is selling at Rs 31 per cubic ft against Rs 22 per cubic ft during the Congress regime. Aggregate Gravel (Gol Bajri) is trading at Rs 23 per cubic ft against Rs 19 in 2021. Aggregate Cut Gravel is selling at Rs 33 per cubic ft against Rs 27 earlier. Fine sand costs Rs 35 per cubic ft against Rs 19 during the previous regime. The rates of sand and gravel are much higher in interior parts of Punjab as the transport cost from mining sites in Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana is added to the final price.


(This article has been published via a syndicated feed)

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