Mining traders spar over gravel dump - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Mining traders spar over gravel dump

Mining traders spar over gravel dump

Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 29

A dump of gravel at Anehr village in Pathankot district has become a point of discord between two sections of mining contractors-cum-traders.

The ownership of this gravel was vested with the panchayat of the village by a court order issued two years ago. The then panchayat was allowed to sell the gravel but by that time, there was a change in the political regime in state. The new set of contractors has allegedly stopped those claiming ownership over the dump from transporting the gravel and selling it.

The contractors, allegedly supported by the newly elected village Sarpanch Balbir Singh, have taken 100 acres of village common land surrounding the gravel dump on lease through an auction. Old contractors who mined and stored the gravel, stone-crushers in the area and some villagers are saying that rules for auctioning the village common land are being bypassed. The new lessees of the land surrounding the dump have blocked their access to the huge market for gravel outside the village. “Our trucks carrying gravel are not being allowed to pass through the village common land. There is a huge demand of gravel. But we are not allowed to take out minerals and sell it,” alleged Rajesh Kumar of Dev Bhoomi Stone Crusher.

He alleged that those who leased the village common land were also seeking “royalty” (goonda tax) from them to take out the gravel and sell it. This, however, has been denied by village sarpanch Balbir Singh. Talking to The Tribune, Balbir Singh said they were justified in blocking the entry of trucks ferrying gravel from the dump. “The land has been leased to nine persons, who will pay Rs 3.10 lakh per annum to the panchayat. If they want to plant trees here, they are free to do so. It is their discretion to give these contractors right of way,” he said.

Other contractors and some villagers maintain that the village common land surrounding the gravel dump had been auctioned by bypassing all norms. It is only through this land that gravel can be transported out, and by gaining control over the passage, the transportation and sale of gravel has been blocked. “This has allegedly been done to wrest control over lakhs of tonnes of gravel. The lease has been allotted to persons who are not even residents of the village,” said Mohan Singh, former sarpanch of the village.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Abhijit Kapilesh said he was looking into all aspects and promised that rule of law would prevail.

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