Punjab government’s hopes of making over Rs 1,000 crore from auction of sand mines were hit with the re-auction of 43 mines fetching Rs 206 crore and the mines which went between Rs 3 crore to 50 crore during the first auction, fetched between Rs 66 lakh and Rs 20 crore in Wednesday’s auction.
The government had auctioned 89 mines during its earlier auction on May 19 and 20 out of which over 30 high bidders, who bid at unrealistic high prices did not deposit the security amount. During the earlier auction, the high bids had lent hopes to the government for a revenue of over Rs 1,000 crore. But as the high bidders in many cases did not turn up, the government was able to make only Rs 280 crore then. The state auctioned 43 mines out of 55 tendered on Wednesday. Both the auctions have, however, fetched Rs 500 crore, which is 10 times higher than the revenue generated by previous government during the last fiscal at Rs 40 crore.
Sources in mining department told The Indian Express that the worst hit were Dupana and Rajapur mines in Ludhiana. While Rajapur recorded a highest bid of Rs 50 crore earlier, the bid recorded today stood at Rs 3.05 crore, 16 times less than earlier. Similarly, Dupana that went for Rs 40 crore came down to Rs 4.93 crore today. Both these mines had promised the government a revenue of Rs 90 crore, but it came down to about Rs 8 crore.
The most controversial mines in Nawanshahar bid by individuals linked to Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, too, did not evince much interest as earlier. As many as six mines, five in Nawanshahar and one in Ropar recorded highest bids by individuals linked with the minister during the May auction. While two were bagged by his ex-employees Amit Bahadur and Kulvinder Paul Singh, another was bagged by minister’s friend Capt JS Randhawa’s employee, Ajit Pal Singh Gill. Randhawa’s associates were highest bidders in three others mines but had not defaulted on paying the security deposit.
These were Bramad Rail mine, for which a bid of Rs 51 crore was made by a cloth store owner, Avtar Singh Gill earlier, but today’s auction fetched only Rs 18 crore to the government. Similarly, Bairsal mine, which was fetched by Balraj Singh for Rs 9.1 crore earlier got only Rs 5.88 crore today.
Another mine Rampur Khurd in Ropar, which was brought by Gurvinder Singh, another associate of Randhawa for Rs 41 crore was not auctioned today.
A total of 306 bidders participated in the e-auction of the new mines, which will release an estimated 29 lakh tonnes of material. The government has claimed to check the sand mafia, which was controlling the sand business and pocketing high profits and causing a loss to the state exchequer. The government is bringing in greater transparency in the system and processes related to mining.
These include physical checks, including the establishment of a robust mechanism at the district level where ADC and SP level officers are working as nodal officers to check illegal mining. A detailed review is being conducted every month by the District Mineral Foundation and State Mineral Foundation. The Department of Mining is also mulling stationing retired army personnel at mining sites through PESCO, said a government release.