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PUNJAB Govt to start mining sand on its own now

May 22, 2018 05:33 AM

COURSTEY THE TRIBUNE MAY 22

Govt to start mining sand on its own now
5 sites marked on Sutlej riverbed | Tenders tomorrow
Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21

The Punjab Government’s new mining policy may be caught in a political slugfest, but it has finally decided to start excavation of sand on its own as a pilot project.
At least five sites have been identified on the Sutlej riverbed, all in Ludhiana district, where the drainage wing of the Water Resources Department will start excavating sand and gravel and then sell it to the end users at the pithead itself.
Tenders for hiring contractors with the requisite machinery for dredging sand from the riverbed will be floated on Wednesday. The work is expected to be allotted within a week and the sand at these already identified quarrying sites in the riverbed will be excavated and ready to be sold thereafter. Sources told The Tribune that the rate of sand at the pithead could be fixed between Rs 1,000-Rs 1,200 per 100 cubic feet, but the customer would have to bear the cost of transportation of sand.
Jaspal Singh, Principal Secretary, Mines and Geology, said the idea was to ease the availability of sand and gravel in the state, which in turn would bring down the prices of these minor minerals.
“Other than operating these five sites for excavating sand on our own, we are looking at auctioning the 39 sites that have been surrendered on orders of the Supreme Court, and another 171 quarrying sites will also be auctioned soon. By September, the supply of minor minerals will far exceed the demand, thus easing the situation,” he said. The state government has experimented on taking up the mining of sand on its own earlier too, though it was a failure. The previous Akali-BJP government had roped in the Punjab State Industries Export Corporation (PSIEC) to operate 11 quarries in 2015, but the experiment failed. Another attempt was made in January 2017, when just three sites on a riverbed were operated for excavating sand and the sand was sold at the pithead.

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