Amarinder orders vigilance probe into illegal mining

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Chandigarh, March 8 (IANS) With reports of rampant illegal mining of sand across the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered a vigilance inquiry into the alleged nexus between top officials and the illegal mining mafia.

The Chief Minister directed that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and the Station House Officer (SHO) of Dera Bassi, around 20 km from Chandigarh, be shifted out from their postings pending the investigation.

While SDM Paramdeep Singh has been asked to report to the Chief Secretary’s office, DSP P.S. Bal and SHO Pawan Kumar have been shifted to the police lines, an official spokesperson said on Thursday.

The alleged nexus came to the fore in the wake of the crackdown ordered by the Chief Minister after he spotted illegal mining activity while flying over Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts on Tuesday.

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Heavy machinery, trucks and other equipment being used in illegal mining of sand from the Sutlej riverbed were confiscated in both districts.

“Further tightening the noose around illegal miners, the Chief Minister directed the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and SSPs of the state’s mining districts to expand the ambit of their investigations to cover the owners and actual bidders of the mines, as well as the owners of the equipment used, in cases of illegal mining,” the spokesperson said.

The directive came during a meeting convened on Thursday by the Chief Minister, of the DCs and Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) of the 14 districts where mining takes place in the state.

Instructing the officials not to brook any political interference in these investigations, Amarinder said they should catch the owners and the bidders and not confine the action in illegal mining cases to merely the small fry, such as contractors and drivers.

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The Chief Minister also announced the government’s decision to depute one Guardian of Governance (Rakha) at each mining site as a step towards curbing illegal mining.

Asserting this government’s commitment to wipe out the mining mafia, Amarinder said lawlessness would not be tolerated and the illegal miners would be dealt with strongly.

Illegal mining worth millions of rupees is rampant across Punjab.

–IANS

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