Allegations of illegal sand mining reverberated in the ongoing budget session of Punjab Assembly on Wednesday with Leader of Opposition (LOP) Sukhpal Singh Khaira demanding a vigilance inquiry against a minister for illegal mining.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Khaira said the illegal mining spotted by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh from his chopper a few days ago was being done by a minister.
“A lot of illegal mining is happening in Zira. The CM took a long time in getting a minister resign for sand mining. Had he taken immediate action, more ministers and MLAs would not have invested money in sand mines,” he said.
Khaira said the Mandala sand mine in Nawanshahar was also related to a former minister though it was not directly in his name but the source of money spent in auction should be investigated.
He demanded the government to get a mobile application prepared for people to report about the illegal sand mining of the government wanted to actually stop the menace.
Later, during the debate on Governor’s address, Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) chief Simarjit Singh Bains and his brother Balwinder Singh Bains staged a walkout after his allotted time to speak on the address was consumed over a heated debate on illegal sand mining. Bains had accused a relative of the Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh of mining the Shivalik foothills illegally.
As Bains started raising the finger of accusation at the Speaker himself, several Congress members defended the chair aggressively. After the walkout, Bains told the media outside the Assembly that Speaker’s relative was accused of illegal mining in a letter written by Shiv Chand Tikka, a member of Punjab State Board for Wildlife, to the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, alleging that a stone crusher owned by Speaker’s relative was engaged in illegal mining on the foothills of Shivalik.
Earlier, inside the Assembly, the Speaker defended himself from the chair and said the allegations were baseless and that the letter did not mention any of his relatives. Reacting to allegations by Bains, Congress members Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon alias Kikki, Gurkirat Kotli and Vijay Inder Singh Singla objected to the allegations by Bains.
Kikki asked the Speaker to condemn Bains for raising allegations without any proof. “You know you are raising allegations against the chair,” Kikki told Bains.
The Opposition parties cornered the government on the Governor’s address by raising the issue of unfulfilled