#PunjabMiningRow : Multi-political party backed Sand Mafia

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

  1. Kuldeep Makkar
  2. Sahibjit Sandhu ( Sambhdhi of Kuldeep Makkar)
  3. Amrik Singh Dhillon
  4. Sukhpal Bhullar-Mohan Pal Pannu ( Brother In law)
  5. 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 122.173.165.196 and  193 were logged in through  IP 122.173.237.131.

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 122.173.165.196  IP address and 3 from  103.241.242.187 IP address. Hence it was a draw among two group only rather than 12 parties, obvious winner is from 122.173.165.196  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 122.173.165.196  IP address and 18  from 122.173.237.131 IP address. Hence it was a draw among  two group only rather than 34 parties, obvious winner is from 122.173.237.131 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 122.173.165.196  IP address and 6 from 122.173.237.131 IP address. Hence it was a draw among  two groups only rather than 13 parties , Winner is from  122.173.237.131  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 122.173.165.196  IP address, 6 from 122.173.167.251 IP address and 2 from 27.255.223.64. Hence it draw among three groups and not among 15 parties. Winner is from  122.173.167.251 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 122.173.167.251 IP address. Hence it draw among 3 group and not 8  parties.  Winner is from 122.173.165.196  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 122.173.165.196  IP address and 5  from  122.173.237.131 .  Winner is from 122.173.165.196  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.