Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa today met Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan in Delhi and demanded an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged illegal sand mining in the state.
Bajwa who was accompanied by Union ministers Manish Tewari,Preneet Kaur and Santosh Chaudhary and MPs Sukhdev Singh Libra,Mohinder Singh Kay Pee,Ravneet Singh Bittu and Vijay Inder Singla told Natarajan that despite stringent norms,sand mafia was flourishing with active collusion and connivance with the ruling SAD-BJP government in Punjab.
Punjab government is virtually flouting every rule as prescribed by the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act 1957,Environment protection Act 1986 and Supreme Court guidelines. So far only 27 environment clearances had been obtained from the Centre for mining of minor minerals such as gravel, he added.
The memorandum submitted to the Union minister said that as a result of massive illegal mining,the residents of Punjab were facing threat of floods due to change in course of the rivers. Furthermore,the unscientific sand mining was expected to pollute the underground water.
Bajwa told the minister that highest echelons of SAD-BJP government were actively patronising the illegal sand mafia and police and bureaucracy are also colluding with them in brazen plunder of natural resources.
Due to huge public uproar few FIRs were registered but no investigation has taken place to catch the real culprits,he claimed. He stated that in this process public land is also being encroached by the mafia.
In pursuance of orders of Punjab and Haryana High Court,a special tribunal led by retired judge of Supreme Court Justice Kuldip Singh was constituted,which in its second interim report has indicted the Punjab government and highlighted the connivance of the land sharks and the officials of mining wing and other departments in encroachment of river beds, he added.
Natrajan reportedly told the PPCC president that she was aware of the matter and two teams of Union Environment Ministry had already conducted inspection of the mining sites in Ropar and Hoshiarpur. She said she was awaiting report of the inspection teams. She assured that if any irregularities were found,the matter would be referred to the CBI.