War against sand mafia was one of the key campaign issues during the Punjab Assembly polls. From liquor to stone crushing, mafia cartelization has long root in sand, boulder mining in Punjab. The huge amount received by government through forward bidding indicates how the sand mafia was causing huge losses to the state coffers. The recent order of Honorable High court cancelling 83 mines on the basis of “Reverse Bidding” opens a Pandora box where its apparent that Sand mafia is operative in the state for last two decades and plundered thousand of crores of public exchequers money.
Royalty Theft an unwritten rule – Governed the Punjab
Monopolies flourish in Punjab as party leaders run the state like a “private limited company”. Roots of mafia and cartelization originate from the system in the past which was managed and manipulated to favour some special groups. These groups penetrate any ruling party through money. Their modus operandi is to grease the palms of all concerned in such a manner that their hold on sand cartelization remains intact and they keep looting the general public and state exchequers simultaneously. According to a 2012 petition filed by lawyer Gurbir Singh Pannu, in Roop Nagar district the total quantity permitted to be taken out in three years was 159,000 tons. There are about 400 crushers in the Roper district and this much quantity of stones will last barely three days.
Reverse bidding – practically no bidding, Just a draw
Its commented in the High Court order that to control the pit head price the past government adopted the process of auction through reverse bidding. In auction by reverse bidding the state pre-determines various components, which the bidder will pay such as royalty , compensation to land owners, environment clearance expense, weigh bridge expanse etc. The profit of the bidder is also fixed and added to the component. This tool of tie was being used by putting same bid to ensure the draw.
Who controlled the Reverse bidding and How
The sand syndicate consists of
- Kuldeep Makkar
- Sahibjit Sandhu ( Sambhdhi of Kuldeep Makkar)
- Amrik Singh Dhillon
- Sukhpal Bhullar-Mohan Pal Pannu ( Brother In law)
- Fringe players ( Approved by above four)
Its inconsequential which party is in power, as the cartel governs this trade. With support from some senior civil/police officials, they are having free run starting from allotments to postings of mine officials. All these illegal operations have forced an increase in price of sand in last one decade. The members inter-party allegiance has provided them contacts and easy access in all relevant political parties of the state. Their cog of wheels is so entrenched in mining department that policies are made to suit these players and help them.
How cartelization and bid rigging was done
Government of Punjab placed 35 rivers for public auction on 19.12. 2016 in Ferozpur district and about 625 bids were received which are equal to Government declared Pit head price. Most interesting thing is that for these 625 bids only 20 IP addresses were used. And out of these 20 , 5 IP addresses logged upto 488 bids. 173 bids were logged in through same IP of 22.214.171.124 and 193 were logged in through IP 126.96.36.199.
No draw it was rigging (same IP and interrelated parties)
There were 12 bidder who placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Bhawda Azamshah-2 , Hadbast no 222 quarry. Out of 12 bidders, 9 bidder logged in from 188.8.131.52 IP address and 3 from 184.108.40.206 IP address. Hence it was a draw among two group only rather than 12 parties, obvious winner is from 220.127.116.11 IP address.
There were 34 bidders who placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Ththa, Hadbast no 24 quarry. Out of 34 bidders , 16 bidders logged in from 18.104.22.168 IP address and 18 from 22.214.171.124 IP address. Hence it was a draw among two group only rather than 34 parties, obvious winner is from 126.96.36.199 IP address.
There were 13 bidders who placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Dhandian-2 , Hadbast no 145. Out of 13 bidders , 7 bidders logged in from 188.8.131.52 IP address and 6 from 184.108.40.206 IP address. Hence it was a draw among two groups only rather than 13 parties , Winner is from 220.127.116.11 IP address.
There were 15 bidders who placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Chugetwala , Hadbast no 139 quarry . Out of 15 bidders , 7 bidders logged in from 18.104.22.168 IP address, 6 from 22.214.171.124 IP address and 2 from 126.96.36.199. Hence it draw among three groups and not among 15 parties. Winner is from 188.8.131.52 IP address.
There were 8 bidders who placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Masteke, Hadbast no 36 quarry. Out of 8 bidders , 4 logged in from 122.173.165. 196 IP address and 3 from 184.108.40.206 IP address. Hence it draw among 3 group and not 8 parties. Winner is from 220.127.116.11 IP address
There were 17 bidders who has placed bids equal to Government declared pit mouth price for Burrewala, Hadbast no 04 quarry. Out of 17 bidders , 5 bidders logged in from 18.104.22.168 IP address and 5 from 22.214.171.124 . Winner is from 126.96.36.199 IP address
It is conclusive that it was only four groups which were playing all this game of draws by cartelizing. Bidding from same IP address and related companies, is a direct indication of cartelization and bid rigging. State Government must accept the role of this mafia, incidentally it doesn’t even require hi-tech abilities like tweeting an aerial view from chopper.