Punjab govt clears decks for setting up ED to crackdown on illegal mining

Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: Decks have been cleared for the establishment of the Enforcement Directorate to check illegal mining in Punjab.

The directorate will be headed by a senior police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) at the state-level and would be assisted by three SP level officers in the Head Office. Each of the seven mining blocks (number may vary as per government policy) would be headed by an officer not below the rank of a DSP, with 21 Inspectors and Sub Inspectors at the district level (three per DSP) and 175 Head Constables and constables under them. This deployment may be altered from time to time, keeping in view the functional requirements of the ED. 

The police personnel in ED will be provided salary, equipment and arms by the Police department. Any special equipment, if required, would be provided from District Mineral Foundation Funds. It will be set up in the Mining and Geology Wing of Water Resources department. It will also help in ramping up the state’s revenues by curbing the menace of illegal mining.

In addition to the registration and investigation of mining-related cases by various District Police chiefs (CPS & SSPs) as at present, ED would also register and investigate cases in coordination with XENs, SDOs, Mining Officers, under the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Orders of the Supreme Court of India and National Green Tribunal guidelines. It will present final reports (challans) thereof to the respective Courts.

Investigation of every case would be completed in a time-bound manner.

In this endeavour, districts of Mohali, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Sangrur and Bathinda would be given greater attention to ensure effective legitimate mining operations.

The ED would help in checking and stopping unauthorised movement of minor minerals within the state and at the interstate borders of Punjab, in conjunction with the officials of the Mining department. It will also facilitate prosecution of those indulging in illegal mining under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. 

Working closely with the Mining Wing of Water Resources department, the ED will also check that those involved in sand and gravel business do not overcharge on the sale price ceiling prescribed in the Mining Policy.

Also in another decision, convicted prisoners in Punjab will now be eligible for remission from time to time, instead of just once under the amendment to the Remission Policy 2010, approved on Wednesday by the state cabinet.

The cabinet gave the go-ahead to the amended Remission Policy 2021, which makes remission applicable for prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for more than 10 years, including prisoners sentenced for life instead of prisoners convicted for 10 to 20 years under the earlier policy.

Further, the convicts would now be eligible for time to time remission also in cases of offences committed under Section 302 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, read with Sections 376, 376-A, 376-AB, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, 376-DA, 376-DB, 376-E or 377 of the Indian Penal Code, instead of an offence committed under Section 302 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with only Sections 376 to 376-D or 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

It may be recalled that on March 16, 2020, while considering premature release cases of life convicts, it came to the notice of the Committee constituted at the level of government for the purpose, that the Remission Policy-2010 had some ambiguities. The Committee also realised that the 2010 policy was silent on some provisions. Hence, it could not be clarified from the Remission Policy whether the remission announced by the Punjab Government was to be granted to the convicts every year or it can be granted only One Time during the sentence period. It was thus felt that the Remission Policy dated September 30, 2010 needed some clarification.