The Amarinder Singh-led Punjab cabinet Wednesday approved major policy changes in order bring further transparency in the sand mining sector. The new changes will enable the government to carry out progressive bidding instead of the earlier process of auction by individual mines to allot blocks in strategically established clusters. Approved by the Cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the new policy would come into force two months. The Punjab State Sand and Gravel Policy, 2018 and amendment to the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013, is aimed at helping increase the royalty receipt of the state exchequer, provide adequate supply at a fair price to the consumer and curb illegal mining, an official statement said here. The Cabinet also decided that the department of mining would launch an online Punjab Sand portal for sale of sand to all the consumers. All transactions\/payments for the purpose will be captured through an online real-time monitoring system. As per a PTI report, the sale of sand would be controlled by electronic documentation linked to the central documentation. Also, a daily progress report would be uploaded on the portal. The statement further said the mining rights of concession quantity of sand and gravel would be put to bidding through transparent e-auction process. Under the new policy, only registered companies, partnerships, sole proprietorship, societies including cooperative societies, individuals and consortia of up to three such entities would be eligible to bid, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions. An eligible bidder must show an average annual turnover during the last three fiscal (ending March 31) not be less than 50 per cent of the reserve price of the mining block he bids for. A number of contractors failed to operationalise mines auctioned during 2017-18 fiscal after bidding for them at an increased price.