Chandigarh, Mar 5: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday announced the constitution of an Enforcement Directorate to “completely eliminate the scourge of illegal mining” from the state. He said the ED (Mining) will be under a senior police officer with adequate police force at his command.
Winding up the discussion of the motion of thanks to the governor’s address in the Vidhan Sabha, Singh also slammed the erstwhile SAD-BJP government for not only “patronising” illegal mining but actively promoting the “systemised loot” of the state exchequer. The motion of thanks, moved by Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka on Tuesday, was unanimously passed by the House.
Singh said his government has spent the last four years putting in order the mining revenues, which the erstwhile regime had allowed to “fritter away”. He said he is now cracking down on illegal mining in a big way.
Announcing the setting up of ED (Mining), the chief minister said the agency would ensure strict implementation of the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 and the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013. The move was prompted by the success of the Special Task Force constituted to check drug abuse in the state, he added.
In his two-hour speech, Singh also reiterated his resolve to bring to book all those involved in the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents of Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. He informed the House that so far, five police and civil officials have been identified for legal action and as many people convicted by the courts.
Singh exuded confidence that the people of the state will continue to repose their faith in his “transparent and responsive” government. Of the 546 promises the Congress party made in its manifesto for the 2017 assembly polls, he claimed, 455 had been fulfilled, translating into a success rate of 84.6 per cent.
The chief minister assured the House that his government would also fulfil the remaining promises. Singh also spoke about Punjab’s “success” in managing and containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Punjab was thought to be a potentially high-risk state given its international airports and the large diaspora. But despite being home to over 2.5 per cent of the country’s population, the state has reported relatively much fewer cases at 1.6 per cent of the country’s 1.1 crore, he said.
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