THE Punjab government has decided to hold fresh auction of sand and gravel quarries, for which the notice would be issued by February 20 and the process would be completed by March 31.
The move comes at a time when the government has not been able to achieve its target of collecting Rs 200 crore as stated in the current year’s budget. Collection during the current fiscal so far is around Rs 12 crore according to the Punjab industries department.
“Depending upon the decision on the special leave petition (SLP) pending before the Supreme Court, the quarries will be auctioned,” said director cum secretary industries, Punjab, V K Janjua.The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier recommended that the auctions should be held on the khasra number basis.
Mr Janjua added that the department has already collected khasra numbers of quarries to be auctioned, even though it was a difficult task as the river kept shifting its course.
Currently in Punjab, there are more than 650 sand and gravel mining sites for which the government has even decided to club the quarries while auctioning, depending on their feasibility and economic viability. “There is also a proposal to increase the rates of royalty of all minor minerals and to give the contracts for two years instead of three. They arrangement of clubbing the quarries will not only yield better price for the government but it will also help in checking illegal mining from river-beds,” said Mr Janjua.
Politicians and businessmen in the region have a strong hold in the largely unorganized sand and gravel business worth crores in the state. The business is largely concentrated in the districts of Ropar, Mohali. Gurdaspur, Patiala and Ludhiana along the riverbeds of the Sutlej, Ghaggar and Beas.