Punjab Assembly witnesses uproar over illegal sand mining
The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday witnessed uproar when Mines and Geology Minister Harjot Singh Bains targeted the previous Congress government over the illegal sand mining issue, claiming that there was "loot" of Rs 7,000 crore from the mining in the past five years.
During the ongoing budget session here, Bains also blamed the previous governments for the state's ballooning debt.
Bains raked up the issue of illegal sand mining and said that the state could earn just Rs 1,083 crore in the past 20 years from the mining sector, indicating the scale of illegal mining.
"If we make an estimate and also add a compound interest component, then loot of Rs 40,000 crore of revenue took place in the past 20 years," said Bains while showing the papers regarding the illegal mining in the House.
"Your (Congress) government looted Rs 7,000 crore in the past five years," alleged Bains while pointing towards Congress members in the House.
Interrupting the minister, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said if the AAP government is able to earn Rs 20,000 crore from sand mining as claimed by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal earlier, then he will not enter the House.
He said that loot in mining might have taken place in the past but the state government should now show earning of Rs 20,000 crore from the sand mining.
Congress member and former mines minister Sukhbinder Sarkaria dared the state government to increase revenue from sand mining by Rs 20,000 crore.
Bains alleged that gross irregularities in the sand mining took place during the previous regime and claimed that protected land was used for illegal mining without the approval of the forest department.
He said 18 officers have been suspended so far and he has written to the vigilance bureau for a time bound inquiry into the matter.
Bains further said that during the Congress regime, 40,000 metric tonnes of sand mining used to take place per day in the entire state and now, 40,000 MT is mined only from Pathankot district.
Interrupting the minister, Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa said the minister could not speak during the debate on the budget.
After Bajwa raised the point that under what rule, the minister was allowed to speak on the budget, the Speaker said that some opposition members had asked him to make the statement in the House.
Bajwa told the Speaker that his party members should not be heckled by the MLAs of treasury benches. Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema said that whosoever was found to be indulged in corruption, strict action will be taken.
Former minister and Congress MLA Aruna Chaudhary dubbed the generation of Rs 20,000 crore from the mining sector as 'Mungeri Lal ke haseen sapne' of the AAP government.
She claimed that illegal mining is taking place in Pathankot, adding that she had sent videos in this regard to the police and the mining department for further action.
Later, in the second sitting of the House, Congress' Bajwa demanded the formation of a protocol committee of the members of the House for making bureaucrats responsive to the elected representatives.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)