PANCHKULA DISTRICT mining official, Omdutt Sharma, was suspended on Friday as a follow-up to a grievance meeting that was held in the district on June 28.
During the June meeting, the Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs, Sardar Sandeep Singh, had directed officials to take strict action against Omdutt and put a stop to all illegal mining activities in the district. The District Transport Officer-cum-Secretary of RTA, Amarendra Singh, has also been transferred out for failing to stop the overloading of vehicles.
The minister had taken cognisance of a complaint alleging illegal mining and transportation of sand by way of Badona Kalaan through Dangri river in villages Barona Kalan, Raipurani. He had then directed the mining official to submit a detailed report on illegal mining wherever they are prevalent in the district.
Apart from this, MLA Gianchand Gupta had directed the District Transport Officer to regularly inspect overloading of vehicles being used in the designated mining area and challan them as per rules. However, sources said, both the leaders were dissatisfied with the reports submitted by Omdutt and Amrendra, following which action was taken against them.
Both Omdutt and Amarendra refused to comment on the issue.
Minister Sardar Sandeep Singh on Friday convened a second meeting with the District Public Relations and Grievance Redressal Committee at the PWD Rest House. Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker and local MLA Gianchand Gupta along with Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh were present at the meeting. During the meeting, the minister was apprised that action has been taken so far in 13 cases placed in the District Public Relations and Grievance Redressal Committee meeting that was held on June 28 this year.
History of illegal mining in Panchkula
Panchkula has for long remained a hotbed for illegal mining in the region. Cases of illegal mining, which are mostly a fraction of the actual numbers, continue to be reported from throughout the district.
This week on Wednesday for instance, at least three fresh signs of illegal activity in an agricultural field of Raipurani area were reported and an FIR in the case was filed.
The administration this year has already registered eight cases of illegal mining, and seized 73 vehicles, while also collecting a fine of Rs 68.6 lakhs as fines from offenders.
The Panchkula administration had launched a drive back in 2019 to curb illegal mining and even appointed special officers to patrol the worst affected areas at night. A task force too was constituted to ensure enforcement of guidelines in May 2019. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had also ordered a probe on the alleged abundance of illegal mining in the district but to no avail. A team to conduct joint inspections for the prevention of illegal mining in the district, too, been formed then.
In 2020, as many as 123 vehicles involved in illegal mining were apprehended in the district and about Rs 3 crore was recovered in fine. Also, at least 32 FIRs were registered against offenders then.
In March this year, then Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja had directed officers of the Civil and Police administration to work in close coordination with each other to curb illegal mining. The SDMs of Panchkula and Kalka had been advised to maintain close coordination with ACP Rajkumar, who had been made the nodal officer of police for mining-related matters so that the assistance of the concerned police post may be taken if required.
The RTA was asked to submit a list of registered JCBs and excavators being operated in Kalka and Pinjore areas, besides furnishing the details of such machines of Derabasi and Zirakpur being used here, along with the owner’s name, and to keep a watch on the same.
In order to check inter-state transportation of illegally mined material, the DC had asked the officials to ensure that vehicles carrying mining material, while entering Panchkula from Himachal Pradesh, compulsorily have a valid e–Rawana slip.
Checkpoints were set up at four places — Buhar, Rampur, Burjkotia, and Khetpurali — where mining guards were deployed on a rotational basis everyday in the evening. The officers of the Irrigation Department had been directed to immediately contact the concerned SDM in case of information on illegal mining activity in their jurisdiction.