Amritsar, June 30
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on his way back from Amritsar on Wednesday conducted a ‘raid’ after spotting illegal mining on the Beas riverbed along the main National Highway.
As Badal along with his cavalcade and mediapersons reached the spot, the drivers ran away abandoning the mining machinery and JCBs. They had put up the pipelines on the floaters and fork cranes were pressed into service to mine the sand.
Accusing Congress leaders of being hand-in-glove with sand mafia, Sukhbir said hundreds of trucks were involved in illegal mining in the name of desilting and denting the exchequer with crores or rupees.
He said despite tall claims of zero tolerance by the CM against illegal mining, the practice continues unabated.
“In fact, the CM has given a free hand to its ministers and MLAs to loot. They have been involved in illegal mining and pocketing at least Rs 50,000-60,000 against a truckload of illegal sand mined from the river. I have been highlighting that at least illegal mining worth Rs 2,000 crore was prevalent in the state under the patronage of police-politician nexus,” he alleged.
Sukhbir pointed out that the Congress has accused the Akali Dal of inciting sand mafia. “Now the Akali Dal has reached out to Captain Raj to expose illegal mining in the state. We will not settle for anything less than getting registered complaints against those involved in this sand mining,” he said.
Sukhbir also called up Amritsar SSP (rural) Gulneet Singh Khurana. He asked the officer to send his force and book the wrongdoers, otherwise the SAD workers would resort to block the National Highway in protest.
Earlier, during his visit to Golden Temple here, Sukhbir had accused a Congress minister and an MLA of indulging in sand mining in Ajnala sector.
He also tweeted, “Villagers say police come every day but to collect bribes from mafia elements. Right from @capt_amarinder to Sukh Sarkaria as well as local DC & SSP should tell Pbis why they are allowing this brazen loot. SAD demands arrest of mafia kingpins Ashok Chandak & Rakesh Chaudhary.”
In another tweet, he wrote, “Sand mafia has overtaken the State. Witnessed illegal mining first hand near Beas bridge which threatens the lifeline of Majha besides eroding river banks & destroying farmer fields. @capt_amarinder has given an open license to mafia & Cong MLAs to loot Pb to save his chair.”
The SAD president also filed a complaint against minister Sukhbinder Sarkaria and MLAs Santokh Singh Bhalaipur, Sukhpal Bhullar, Inderbir Bolaria, Ramanjit Singh Sikki and Kulbir Singh Zira and alleged mining kingpins Ashok Chandak, Rakesh Chaudhary and Mohan Pal at the Beas police station.
He said as per the National Green Tribunal, no mining activity could take place within 5 km of a bridge, but in this case sand was being mined within a distance of 1 km. Similarly, he said the claim of desilting being done at the site was wrong as desilting could not be done in running water.
Truck drivers who were being charged a ‘goonda tax’ of Rs 16,000 per truck filed a separate complaint against sand mafia. Villagers also filed a separate complaint saying panchayat land was being mined by the mafia without their permission.