Opposition corner govt over illegal mining, gurdwara clash in Punjab Assembly session
Chandigarh, November 28, 2023: As per media reports, on the first day of the winter session of Vidhan Sabha today on all issues… except on the issue of illegal mining of minor minerals in the state and the recent clash among two groups of Nihangs to take control of a gurdwara.
According to the news published in The Tribune, opposition MLAs accused the Aam Aadmi Party of “patronising illegal mining” and mocked at it for being unable to control the menace, as was promised by it before the 2022 elections. The name of a former Ropar SSP was also taken in the House by Opposition MLAs for being involved in illegal mining, allegedly at the behest of a “local minister”.
While the Opposition charged at the Treasury benches on a variety of issues, including rampant spread of dengue, deteriorating fiscal health of the state, protest by unemployed teachers and the suicide by one, besides agrarian issues, the Treasury benches were able to counter most of the charges.
However, the Treasury benches seemed uncomfortable to counter the charge of illegal mining after Leader of the Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MLA Pargat Singh and Akali Dal MLA Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi raised the issue.
The SAD MLA mentioned that the former SSP was involved in illegal mining and “we know on whose patronage he was allowing these contractors to operate illegally”, he alleged.
Pargat Singh said such was the situation that even the land of a drug racket kingpin, which had been taken over by the Enforcement Directorate, was under the control of these mining contractors. Bajwa suggested that a committee of the Vidhan Sabha be constituted to look into the issue.
Education Minister Harjot Bains, who represents Anandpur Sahib constituency, did try to counter the charges. “Seventy per cent of the mining of minor minerals happens in Anandpur Sahib and Pathankot. People just keep making frivolous allegations about someone’s ‘chacha’ being involved without any proof.
Bikram Majithia had held a press conference with a lawyer, who was a black mailer. I must remind him that the land where illegal mining is alleged to have taken place belonged to his ‘old friend’ Jagdish Bhola,” he said. He, however, did not receive any support from his party MLAs.
Two other MLAs – AAP’s Inderjit Kaur Mann and Congress’ Hardev Singh Laddi — raised the issue of sand mining for infrastructure projects, from their constituencies impacting the village roads and causing flooding.
Even later, when the issue of protesting teacher Balwinder Kaur’s suicide was raked in the House, Bains found himself alone. Congress MLA Pargat Singh had raised the issue and Bains replied that the problem was created by the Congress when it decided to recruit the 1158 assistant professors and librarians in the last leg of its government.
He attacked Pargat saying that GNDU Vice-Chancellor had given a dissenting note on this recruitment and that Pargat’s role was also under shadow in the court proceedings in this matter.
Congress MLAs from Doaba also cast aspersions on the government for the clash of two groups of Nihangs for the control of a gurdwara in Sultanpur Lodhi.