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CBI probe into illegal mining and ‘Goonda’ tax collection

Chandigarh (Gurpreet) In a statement issued here today, Sukhpal Singh Khaira MLA and former Leader of Opposition welcomed the CBI probe ordered by Punjab and Haryana High Court to look into ‘Goonda’ tax collection in Ropar district. Khaira urged the hon’ble High Court to expand the scope of CBI enquiry throughout the state of Punjab, as the said mining mafia which is backed by powerful politicians of the state is rampantly and blatantly looting our natural resources at the cost of public exchequer.

Khaira said Punjab government in a very crafty move has created seven mining clusters in Punjab so that the trade can be monopolized by big players with political backing. Khaira said at present the said seven clusters are being managed by frontmen of powerful politicians including the family of Capt. Amarinder Singh through one Mr Ashok Chandak who unsuccessfully contested the Ganganagar assembly election and one Rakesh Chaudhary of Jammu. Khaira said the family of late Ponty Chadha has also acquired huge stakes in the mining business like liquor across Punjab. Khaira said it is common knowledge that the family of Ponty Chadha is very closely connected with Capt. Amarinder Singh as it was during his 2002-07 tenure that Ponty Chadha was introduced to liquor business in Punjab.

Khaira said as per the latest modus operandi these powerful cluster owners have imposed a ‘Goonda’ tax of Rs. 5 per square foot on construction material like gravel, crusher, sand etc. produced by the crusher industry of Punjab. Khaira said this ‘Goonda’ tax accounts for almost 30 percent of the market price of the said construction material products.

Khaira said it was astonishing that the entire mining trade of Punjab has been auctioned to the said cluster owners for a meagre amount of only Rs. 274 crores for three years. He said in other words the income of Punjab from mining business was less than Rs. 100 crore annually. Khaira said he is of the firm opinion that if the government demonopolises the mining trade and sets up a government owned corporation the collection from mining business in Punjab would shoot up to at least Rs.10,000 crores per annum. He said by doing so thousands and lakhs of young entrepreneurs can get an opportunity to earn livelihood.

Khaira said the latest intervention by the hon’ble High Court to order the said CBI probe clearly shows that the district administration of Ropar is defunct and has collapsed to the dictates of its political masters to support the mining mafia. Khaira reiterated his demand for a pan Punjab CBI inquiry into the sleazy illegitimate mining being done by mafia at large scale with the blessings of powerful politicians like Capt. Amarinder Singh and his cronies.  

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