Mining operations shut in Punjab, yet no shortage of sand, gravel - ECAS Punjab

Mining operations shut in Punjab, yet no shortage of sand, gravel

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22

Legal mining is not allowed from the quarries in the state's riverbeds during the monsoon season. Most of the 'dry quarries' (quarries on farmers land), too, have become non-operational as environmental clearance is awaited.

Of the 200 quarries in seven mining clusters, only 80 became functional in February after getting environmental clearance. But mining in these quarries is not allowed in the monsoon season (July-September).

Ideally, this should mean a shortage of sand and gravel in the state, but there is no shortage and the material is available easily from quarries in Pathankot, Ropar, Nawanshahr, Ludhiana and Moga.

The five mining contractors, who have the contracts for extracting sand and gravel from seven clusters demarcated in the state, have alleged that illegal mining is rampant and is hurting their business.

Ashok Chandak, who represents these contractors, said illegal mining was flourishing under political and police patronage. "Of the five contractors, four are from outside Punjab. We are not getting any help from the local administration or the police," he said.

The government had capped the rate of sand at Rs 900 per 100 cubic ft last year. But consumers are paying Rs 2,200-2,900 per 100 cubic ft for sand and Rs 1,800-2,100 per 100 cubic ft for gravel and aggregate. Contractors say they are supplying the material to the crushers at the government price. The crushers and transporters take their own cuts and supply material at a higher price, they say.

from The Tribune

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