26 July, 2022 – Patiala : Despite more than 100 FIRs over illegal mining in the Ghaggar in nearly four years, no high-level probe has been ordered by the Punjab Government to expose key players involved in the illegal operations.
There are allegations that while the mafia is thriving, FIRs in a majority of the cases were filed only against drivers and labourers.
Even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had promised to plug such activities, failed to order a probe into large-scale mining in the Ghanaur, Shutrana and Sanaur belts adjoining the Ghaggar.
Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that even as mining is taking place in the area on a regular basis, there is no record of buyers of illegally extracted sand or any track of financial transactions.
Even in the mining hotbed of Ghanaur, no official document ever revealed the name of any key accused.
Sources say the mafia gets a ready market due to high demand of sand from real estate developers in Mohali and Zirakpur. With Ghaggar providing ample sand every monsoon, illegal excavation takes place on a large scale.
Sources in the Mining Department claim sand worth over Rs 100 crore was sold in the past decade, but no probe was ever ordered against officials under whose watch the illicit trade is taking place. In over 65 FIRs accessed by The Tribune, it was found that only mining machinery was impounded and a few drivers or labourers were arrested.
More than half a dozen villages adjoining Ghanaur, including Rajgarh, Nanhera, Chamaru and Bathonian, are the hotbed of illegal mining.
Villagers allege every night trucks and cranes entered the riverbed to illegally extract sand and gravel, but no one ever bothered to check their activities. “This practice has been going on for over 12 years now. If anyone dares to inform the police, his family faces the wrath of local politicians,” claims a villager.
In November 2017, then General Manager (Mining) Tehal Singh Sekhon was allegedly attacked by henchmen of the mining mafia and later by an SHO. Sekhon had accused the then SHO of being hand in glove with the mafia, but no action was taken against the police officer.
Jagatpreet Singh, SSP (Vigilance), Patiala, said during investigation in certain cases rampant mining-related information had come to the fore. “We will not spare anyone involved in illegal mining,” he said.
No record of buyers, financial transactions
- FIRs in most cases filed only against drivers and labourers
- No record of buyers of mining material or track of financial dealings
- Mining mafia thriving due to high demand of sand from builders in Mohali, other Punjab districts
- Villagers allege illegal mining takes place every night, but no one dares to inform the police
We follow a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal mining. Whenever we get a tip-off, a team of police and mining officials is sent to the spot immediately. Deepak Pareek, Patiala SSP
Courtesy : The Tribune