Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday gave in-principle approval to continuing with progressive bidding for grant of mining contracts, while directing the Mining Department to explore the possibility of setting up a Mining Corporation, as suggested by Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. 

The Chief Minister took these decisions while chairing a high-level meeting to discuss various issues relating to Mining in the state.

Since the establishment of a Mining Corporation, on the lines of Telangana as suggested by Navjot Singh Sidhu, may take time, the Chief Minister said the state government would continue to follow the Progressive Bidding policy, which it had adopted and which had been upheld by the Supreme Court. This would help ensure that the mining process is carried out with transparency and illegal mining is curbed, he added.

Giving details of the meeting, an official spokesperson said Sidhu’s suggestion was discussed threadbare and it was decided to follow up the discussions with a detailed examination of the proposal to see how best it could be taken forward.

The Chief Minister, while batting for progressive bidding as the best methodology in the present circumstances to tackle the menace of illegal mining, asked the Department to work out the modalities for the conduct of auctions in strategically established clusters.

Expressing concern over the escalating prices of sand as a result of the stringent steps taken by the government to check illegal mining, the Chief Minister directed Revenue & Irrigation Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria to initiate immediate steps for desilting of rivers for flood protection and start the process immediately after the monsoons. The de-silted sand could be pumped into the market to ease the pricing pressure, he added.

Reiterating his government’s zero tolerance to illegal mining, Captain Amarinder Singh asked the Mining Department to deploy high-end monitoring equipment, including geo-tagging of sites and installation of GPS tracking of trucks, to improve enforcement check unlawful mining.

Underlining the need to ensure level-playing field to all the stakeholders, including the government, the consumers and the private players involved in mining business, the Chief Minister directed Sarkaria to explore the possibility of scientific mining in order to bring greater transparency and accountability in the bidding process.

The Chief Minister stressed the importance of cleaning up the system and streamlining the process to further augment the state’s revenue from mining, while ensuring uninterrupted supply of sand and gravel to the consumers at affordable prices.

The meeting was attended, amongst others, by Cabinet Ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Advocate General Atul Nanda, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Irrigation Jaspal Singh, and Secretary Mining Kumar Rahul.