December 19, 2021 9:00:11 am
Illegal sand mining is continuing unabated in a piece of Punjab government land near Chandigarh even though the Forest Range Officer of the area has complained to civil and police authorities repeatedly to take action. Documents in possession of The Indian Express show that the Forest Range Officer of Dera Bassi has complained to the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Dera Bassi and the SHO of the area that illegal mining is taking place in forest land in Bir Peer Muchhalla and that the police is not taking cognisance of complaints made to them on the plea that the area does not fall under their purview. However, no action has been taken yet on his complaints.
The officer, Sukhminder Singh, has also written to the SHO of Dhakauli Police Station bringing the same facts to his notice and pointing out that illegal mining is taking place in forest land which has washed into Ghaggar river due to heavy rains of past few years. The official has informed the SDM and the SHO through letters dated December 6, 2021 and December 9, 2021 that there is danger to the life of the forest staff who have been verbally attacked by people involved in mining mafia.
In a letter to the SDM on December 6, with the subject “illegal mining on forest land in Bir Peer Muchhalla, the forest official said, “Illegal mining is being carried out by some people on area of the government forest land of Bir Peer Muchhalla that was washed into Ghaggar river due to heavy rains of past few years. When a letter was written regarding this to the Police Chowki in-charge Mubarikpur and Chowki in charge in Dhakauli, they refuse to accept the letter that this area does not fall under them. Please take action against illegal mining so that the financial loss being caused to the government can be stopped.” A copy of this letter was also marked to the Divisional Forest officer, Mohali.
In a second letter, addressed to SHO of Dhakauli police station on December 9, the same forest official added that illegal mining is taking place on the mentioned government forest land in the cover of darkness and that when forest department employees go to check the same, sand mafia sometimes run away and on other occasions has threatened the officials. “In order to stop the loss being caused to government property, you are requested to register an FIR against unknown people so that it can be stopped,” he said. A copy of this letter was also to the DSP Dera Bassi along with DFO Mohali to write to the SSP Mohali regarding illegal mining and a copy was also marked to the Conservator of Forests, Shivalik Circle.
When contacted, Forest Range Officer Sukhminder Singh confirmed that he had written the letters. He said that the area where illegal mining is taking place also abuts Haryana and that Haryana Police has taken action against the mining mafia several times.
“There is also a government allotted site for legal mining about a km-and-half from the area about which I have complained. We have also taken up a case with the Tehsildar Dera Bassi to do a marking of the area so that the mining does not get extended to government land. The DFO Mohali is also aware of the matter,” he said.
When contacted, the DFO Mohali, Amit Chauhan, refused to comment on the developments.
Speaking to The Indian Express, SSP Mohali, Navjot Singh Mahal, denied any lack of action by the police over complaints of illegal mining. He said that the district police have been taking action whenever any complaint is made to them by the forest officials. “The complaint about illegal mining should have been made to the SSPs office and it would have been marked to the lower staff for action,” he said.
The SSP also said that in recent past cases had been registered over illegal mining in Majri area of Mohali district. “If no action was being taken on complaints then there would not have been action on other complaints too,” he said. He added that there was ambiguity over the area limit of legal mining sites and that it needs to be demarcated to avoid a spill over.
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