The Fact News Service
Chandigarh, April 24
As a true testimony to the vision of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in ensuring complete transparency in Mining Operations, a massive response has been witnessed in the Bids received for the tenders floated for running the Commercial Sand and Gravel Mines in the State.
Sharing these details, Mining and Geology Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, said that the first tender for running commercial sand and gravel mines with a total annual quantity of 68 Lakh MT of sand/gravel empty had been floated on www.eproc.punjab.gov.in and it has received a massive response of 562 bids against 14 mining clusters advertised. This is proof of the efforts of the Bhagwant Mann-led state government to eliminate monopoly in mining operations by reducing the size of the Mining clusters and making them more competitive under a transparent and progressive mining policy.
Divulging further, the Minister said that earlier the entire state had been divided into just seven clusters which had made the entire mining operation monopolistic and eliminated the smaller players as bidding for such clusters was only possible by the big mining sharks who enjoyed financial clout. This time, however, the state will be divided into one hundred clusters which will make it more competitive thereby making cheap sand and gravel available to the common man, he said.
Adopting a legal approach, the state government has taken a principled decision to complete all legal formalities such as approvals from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), and preparation of mining plans, before floating any tender for any mining site. As a result the entire tender process shall be undertaken in phases, spread over the next three months, during which mines with a total extractable quantity of about 5 crore Tonnes of sand/gravel will be auctioned, he said adding that so far two tenders for more than 1 crore tonnes have already been issued and the third tender for 15-20 lakh tonnes will be issued in the next couple of days.
Replying to a query regarding the procedure to be adopted for evaluation of these Tenders, Meet Hayer said that a multi-member committee, with a representative of the Deputy Commissioner, has been constituted to evaluate all the tenders in a transparent manner. Wherever there is a tie in the financial bids, the same shall be resolved through draw of lots, conducted in full public view with permission to the bidders to install their own cameras to record the proceedings. Media shall also be invited to this draw of lots to ensure full transparency, he said.
Commenting on the success of the 55 Public Mining Sites launched across the state, the Minister said that In addition to providing cheap send to the public, these sites have proven to be a boon for the local labour and village youth, who are now earning a healthy income through their hard work rather than whiling away their time and exposing themselves to the menace of drugs. So far in just 32 public mining sites, the labour has been able to earn more than Rs. 5 crore while the local youth deploying tractor-trolleys are richer by more than Rs 10 crore In just two months since these sites started. Thus, the poor villagers have earned more than Rs.15 crore in two months from just 32 sites. At this rate, once the state government achieves its target of commissioning 150 Public Mining Sites across the State, it would have ensured that thousands of Punjabis collectively earn Rs. 450 crore annually through their honest, hard work of manually extracting sand and transporting it. This is in stark contrast to the period of the earlier Governments when this money was pocketed by the Mining and Transport Mafia operating rampantly in the State, he added.
The Minister reiterated his commitment of providing sand and gravel at cheap rates to the people of Punjab.