Mining sand in Punjab has translated into a mega business.
Punjab sand mining business: Mining sand in Punjab has translated into a mega business. The commodity is an important ingredient in the construction business and as many as 14 districts are involved in carrying on this business. However, as sand mining results in the degradation of the river basin along with other environmentally hazardous consequences, the practice is regulated by the state government. Nevertheless, the high demand for it leads to a tendency to over-mine, Here are all the aspects in connection with the sand mining business of Punjab as reported by The Indian Express:
Sand mining business
As mentioned above, in the business, sand is mined from riverbeds. The process takes place in the dry months when the water is at its low in most of the rivers and tributaries, leaving a major portion of the bed dry.
Extent of sand mining business in terms of quantity
On an annual basis, the demand for sand is estimated to be 2 crore tonnes in Punjab. According to The Indian Express report, the officials estimated the sand mining business to be worth Rs 3,000 crore annually. The business had picked up in Punjab in 2005-06 with the real estate boom and new residential development.
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Process to allot mines and quarries
Last year, the revenue was Rs 35 crore with the system of reverse bidding opted by the previous government, in which the lowest bidder gets the mine. But now the new government has adopted a system of progressive bidding in which it gives the contract to the highest bidder. With this, the state government is expected to make Rs 500-600 crore out of sand mining business this year, the report said.
How illegal mining takes place
For sand mining, a total of 102 spots get auctioned, which are notified by the Ministry of Environment keeping in mind various point including the effect on the flow of the river when there is water in it, on the river banks and the depth of the river. But at times some sand miners expand the area of the mine or tap riverbeds that are not included among the “auctionable” mines as well as continues mining during the monsoon months when the activity is officially banned.
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Recent row on sand mining auction
The new government put on e-auction, promising to ensure transparency in the process. But after the auction, it emerged that individuals linked to Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh had won at least three mines. Though Singh has denied any links to these individuals, chief minister Amarinder Singh has set up a judicial inquiry into the matter.