The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday stayed the auction for sand and gravel mining in Punjab which was slated to be held on December 27.
After hearing arguments of the petitioner, who had challenged the 2018 Mining Policy notified by the government, a division bench of justices Mahesh Grover and Lalit Batra directed the state government to keep the auction process in abeyance till the next date of hearing in January.
"The court has stayed the auction of sand and gravel which was to take place on December 27," advocate Gurminder Singh, counsel for petitioner Baljit Singh who is a mining contractor, said on Wednesday.
Punjab had kept the reserve price of Rs 372.58 crore for the auction of 401 lakh metric tonne of sand and gravel in seven blocks in the state, said the council.
He said it was argued that the government in its notification had not specified the stretches of riverbed and other areas in various districts for the purpose of the auction of sand and gravel.
Mining blocks were set up and that too without getting the quarries identified and demarcated, the council said.
The petitioner argued that it would cause a huge impact on the environment as well as the depletion of natural resources and lead to illegal and uncontrolled mining.
The petitioner, who had surrendered mines under the erstwhile reverse bidding process, also argued that the profit of the remaining period of the contract has not been paid and the government was going to conduct the auction of the quarries "by creating third-party interests".
Notably, Punjab cabinet had in October approved a new mining policy in which it had given go-ahead to major policy changes to enable the government to grant contracts by auction of mining blocks in strategically established clusters through progressive bidding instead of the earlier process of the auction by individual mines.
(With inputs from agencies.)