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Punjab sand mines e-auction nets 20 times more revenue

IANS | Chandigarh |

The 2-day e-auction of sand mines in Punjab has netted bids worth Rs.1,026 crore-marking a 20 fold increase in revenue, officials said on 20 May.

"The successful bid amount is more than 20 times last year's bids of just Rs.40 crore, indicating the extent to which the sand mafia was controlling the business, causing huge losses to the state coffers," said an official spokesperson.

The bids of Rs.1,026 crore was secured for 89 sand mines-the highest ever earnings for the state government from the sand mining business.

"This will pave the way for release of supply pressure and stabilisation of the price of sand in Punjab," the spokesman said.

"The release of surplus sand into the market will lead to easing of pressure, thus earning huge revenue for the state government, which will eventually lead to significant lowering of sand prices," Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had earlier ordered a crackdown on the sand mafia, said after the e-auctions, allaying fears of the high bidding triggering a price increase. 

Nearly 1,000 bidders participated in the e-auction of 102 mines conducted by the Department of Mining in four blocks on 19 and 20 May. 

The e-auction was conducted under the supervision of a retired high court judge and two IAS officers from other departments. 

"The new mines, for which the e-auctions have been successfully conducted, will release an estimated 1.3 crore tonnes of material into the market, adding to the existing capacity of 1.05 crore tonnes. Located in the crucial, high-demand areas of Ludhiana, Mohali, Jalandhar and Amritsar, among other important regions, the mines, once operational, will fill the yawning supply-demand gap for sand in the state to ease the pricing pressure," the spokesman said.

Sand prices in Punjab had witnessed escalation in recent weeks following a crackdown by the Amarinder Singh government on the sand mafia after it came to power in March this year.

The Congress used to allege that the sand mafia mushroomed under the patronage of officials the erstwhile Akali Dal-BJP government.