The sand mafia during the SAD (Akali) regime had bagged sand mines at nominal prices/reserve prices through reverse bidding mechanism. When the Congress Govt took charge, they changed the bidding method to progressive/forward bidding and the Punjab Govt successfully managed to get mammoth revenue which was more than 100 times of the revenue earned during Akali regime from the auction of these sand mines. Although, despite fresh allocation of mines to new bidders, the mafia continues sand excavation illegally across Punjab.
The new bidders brought this to the notice of Punjab Govt. since they had paid crores of rupees to bag the mines in Govt. auctions. When good sense prevailed on the Congress Govt, they decided to cancel these old auctioned mines given at throw away prices to the sand mafia.
The issue didn’t get fixed there, as the mafia approached the High Court to obtain interim stay against the Punjab Govt’s decision. After getting this stay, they left no stone unturned to delay the matter. Finally, all hearings were concluded in last half of December, 2017 before the Division Bench of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court, who had reserved the order on completion of arguments of both sides.
As the decision is reserved with the court, the sand mafia is enjoying the interim stay and are still excavating sand at a very large scale. They also openly collect crores of rupees daily as ‘Goonda Tax’ from crushers and trucks entering from other states. This practice of illegal ‘Goonda Tax’ started in the previous Akali regime. This ‘Goonda Tax’ is still being collected by the sand mafia and it runs into crores of rupees daily. This huge money power goes into shield their misdeeds and corrupt practices. Officials from district or state administration seem helpless, as this mafia is strong financially as well as politically.
Despite fresh bidding from Govt, eventually there is no respite to the end user who still continues to pay exorbitant prices for sand and gravel. Also, the state exchequer is suffering an annual loss of over Rs. 1,000 Crores due to this mafia and their ‘Goonda Tax’.
While Litmus News is further investigating on the matter and intends to expose the names of the mafia and their political connections, authorities must take action to immediately stop these losses.