CHANDIGARH: Punjab Mines and Geology Minister Harjot Singh Bains Saturday claimed his department has ended illegal sand mining in the state.
He also said the daily extraction of sand and gravel in legal manner has crossed one lakh metric tonne.
"We have ended illegal mining in Punjab through our hard work day and night. Being the mining minister, I can say illegal mining has ended in Punjab," Bains said in a video message.
"We have broken the back of illegal mining," he claimed.
He said the government is prompt on acting on cases of illegal mining, and an FIR is also lodged whenever a complaint is received.
The menace of illegal sand mining was among key issues during the 2022 state assembly polls and the Aam Aadmi Party had targeted the previous government over the issue during the poll campaign.
Bains said the daily average extraction of sand and gravel in last year was 35,000-40,000 metric tonne.
"But we took it to over one lakh MT. Yesterday, 1,03,000 MT tonne extraction was done in Punjab," he said.
He further said that in May last year, only 8 lakh MT legal mining of sand and gravel was done.
"But in May this year, we have already crossed 18.50 lakh MT of legal mining," he said.
The minister said that the legal mining of sand and gravel increased considerably despite the fact that only four out of the total seven blocks of mining were operational.
However, shortly after Bains's claims of ending illegal mining, Congress MLA Pargat Singh shared videos on his Twitter handle and claimed illegal mining was taking place at various places.
"@harjotbains ji, Illegal mining continues at various places in Punjab. I am sharing another video of blatant mining in your own backyard in Taraf Mazri, Anandpur Sahib. I request you to please take care of your own area first before making tall claims and indulging in PR exercises," Pargat tweeted.
Bains replied, "2.5X increase in Legal Mining. That's why i am saying kindly check the data of yours term & ours. Have summoned report of this site, will share it. Our intentions are pure, it's my mission to make it all clean, we have done a lot in two months, will do much more. I pledge it."