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Chandigarh,(Gurpreet) Vowing to completely eliminate the scourge of illegal mining from the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced the constitution of an Enforcement Directorate, Mining, under the command of a senior Police officer with adequate police force at his command.

Slamming the previous SAD-BJP Government for not only patronizing illegal mining but actively promoting systemized loot of the state exchequer, the Chief Minister said his government had spent the last 4 years in setting in order the mining revenues, which the erstwhile regime had allowed to be frittered away, he was now “cracking down on the aspect of illegal mining” in a big way. When his government took over, the revenue from mining was as low as Rs.35 crore annually, which has been enhanced to Rs.250 crore - an increase of Rs.215 crore, said the Chief Minister, expressing shock over the loss of Rs 2150 crore by the Akali-BJP combine during their 10-year rule.

The Chief Minister said his government had, last year, strictly enforced the writ of the law irrespective of any suspected political affiliation, and he now proposed to make it even more stringent, with strict implementation of the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 and the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013 against any violator. Illegal mining attracts a punishment of imprisonment for a term of 5 years or a fine of Rs.5 lakh per hectare under the Act.

The Enforcement Directorate would ensure strict implementation, said Captain Amarinder, adding that the move was prompted by the success of the STF constituted to contain drug abuse in the state.

The Chief Minister was responding to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address in the Budget session of the Vidhan Sabha. The Motion of Thanks, moved by Dr. Raj Kumar Verka on Tuesday, was unanimously passed by the House.

Asserting his resolve to bring to book all those involved in the sacrilege and police firing incidents of Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura, Captain Amarinder informed the House that on the recommendations of the Commission, constituted by his government to investigate the cases, he informed the House that so far, 5 Police / Civil Officials had been identified / nominated for legal action, while 5 persons had been convicted up the courts. As per a resolution of the Vidhan Sabha, an SIT had been set up to carry out an independent probe and ensure justice, he disclosed. Further, his government had provided ncreased financial compensation of Rs 1 crore, along with jobs, to the members of families of deceased and the injured persons, he added. Hitting out at the previous government, he revealed that in the past 28 months, 57 out of 85 cases of sacrilege in the state had been traced, as against only 66 out of 132 cases of sacrileges under the SAD-BJP rule.

Besides the success in the war against drugs, with the drugs supply chain now effectively broken, the Chief Minister hailed the establishment of the rule of law, with complete communal harmony in the state, as a remarkable achievement of his government. There had been a perceptive decrease in crime despite the growing security threat from across the borders, he added. Referring to the drive to bring to book gangs of criminals, he disclosed that 2687 Gangsters/Members of various Criminal Gangs had been arrested/ neutralized including 227 Categorized Gangsters since his government took over. Besides, 37 Terrorist Modules had been busted, 221 Terrorists arrested, 10 drones seized, in addition to 1928 illegal weapons and 38 hand grenades. Further, 26 foreign handlers who were involved in hatching conspiracies have been identified, he added.

Listing some of the other key achievements of his government in the past nearly 4 years, the Chief Minister said the state’s battered economy had been revived through focused and prudent measures, and efforts to develop quality infrastructure had been redoubled. His government had constantly pursued all possible actions to protect Punjab’s territorial, and water rights, he said. Relentless promotion of job creation, as well as empowerment of youth, women, persons with disabilities and persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and other minorities & weaker sections of the society, were some of the other achievements listed by the Captain Amarinder.

The Chief Minister said Punjab was blessed during 2019-20 to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Ji, the 150th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi ji; 350th birth anniversary of the great Sikh warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji, the Birth centenary of Acharya Shri Mahapragya – 10th Head of Shwetambar Tera Panth and the 750th Birth Anniversary of Bhagat Namdev ji.

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