To provide sand and gravel at affordable prices to people, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday dedicated 20 more public mines to people in five districts of the state.
Speaking at Sanghera village in Moga, he said under the third phase of public mining sites, 20 new sites, including in Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Moga, Hoshiarpur, and SBS Nagar districts, have been made operational on Friday, increasing the total number of operational sites to 55 across the state.
Mann said the government will soon operationalise a total of 150 public mines across Punjab, ensuring they will get sand at Rs 5.50 per cubic foot.
The state government has eradicated the sand mafia which prevailed during the previous regimes to ensure that people get sand at a cheaper rate, a statement said.
The state government will permit manual excavation of sand in these public mining sites and will prohibit mechanical excavation. "Till now, 5.82 lakh metric tonne of sand has been used by people from 35 public mines," he said, according to an official statement.
Apart from providing sand at a cheaper rate, these public mines will also offer direct and indirect employment to several youths.
According to the chief minister, sand from public mining sites will only be sold for use in the construction of non-commercial projects.
The chief minister said that the sale will be conducted till sunset only and a government official will always be present to regulate the extraction of sand at each public mining site.
Further, he said that a crackdown has been launched against the sand mafia, which was allegedly patronised by the previous regimes.
"Previous governments were hand in glove with every mafia that plundered the state during their tyrant and long misrule," he said, adding that "not even a single tainted person will be allowed to mint the money illegally from any source under our government".
Stern action will be taken against anyone who is found indulging in corrupt practices, Mann added.