A DAY after Mohali Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Kaur Sapra conducted a surprise check at Khijrabaad village and found illegal mining taking place in Majri block of the district, mining continued unchecked even on Monday. Several tractors were found digging the site and a number of crushers were found installed near by. The site in Majri block is barely 4 kilometres from Khijrabaad village where Sapra visited on Sunday and warned people indulging in illegal mining.
A Chandigarh Newsline team visited the Majri block area on Monday and this is what it found: the sand mafia has ruined the eco-system and small farmers of the area by digging up their lands. The rich farmers of the block have also joined hands with the illegal miners. Almost every rich farmer in the block has given one or two tippers on rent to the people indulging in mining.
This common sight of tippers also indicates that the mining continues round the clock on the land, most of which is covered under forest area and despite the fact that the government has barred any commercial activity on it. The sand mining contractors have even dug up the sand hills that are located inside the forest area and covered under the Punjab Land Preservation Act under which no commercial activity could be carried out on the forest land.
A visit to Mianpur Jhangar village near Khijrabaad, where the DC went on Sunday, showed how rampant the mining was. Kadhial Singh, 69, a resident of Mianpur Jhangar village, said that the sand mafia had ruined their land and whenever they tried to oppose, they were beaten up by the mining contractors’ men. “We are feeling so helpless that we cannot even protect our own land. Whenever we approach any government officer, we are assured of action, but nothing happens on the ground. We heard that the DC came to the neighbouring villages to check illegal mining but you can see that the mining is going on unchecked in our village. It is barely a few kilometres away from the village that the Deputy Commissioner visited yesterday,” Kadhial Singh told Chandigarh Newsline. Gurwinder Singh, who is fighting the sand mafia, said that whenever any village panchayat raised voice against the illegal mining, the contractors lured the village heads with good offers.
“I won’t name but you can check that most of the panchayat members at Mianpur Jhangar, Khijrabaad, Majri and some other neighbouring villages own tippers. They rent out the tippers to the contractors and earn good amount of money. When I started speaking against these people, they also approached me. First, they tried to lure me by offering different deals. When I refused, they started threatening me,” Gurwinder alleged. Balwinder Singh, a resident of Khijrabaad village, added that the farmers were the biggest sufferers due to the illegal sand mining.
“The sand contractors used to dig the land 30 to 40 feet deep near the agricultural land in the area. After digging, the earth of the agricultural fields start caving in and slip towards the dug-up area that make it difficult to plough the fields. Subsequently, when the farmers give up, these contractors force them to sell their land at cheaper rates. There are many farmers who have succumbed to such tactics,” Balwinder said. District Forest Officer Guraman Singh was not available for comment.
DC Sapra said that she had constituted a team, headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), to submit the details of the land where the mining was going on. She added that she would also visit the other affected villages in the area this week. Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Singh Chahal said, “We had been registering cases against illegal miners in the area. I will direct the area police station’s incharge to go and meet the villagers and take action against the illegal miners.”