Mining Department slaps weak charges, HSVP passes the buck

Amarjot Kaur

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 12

A day after offering excuses of unavailability on the pretext of being preoccupied with the security arrangements for the CBI court’s verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Panchkula DCP Kamaldeep Singh finally handed over the copy of an FIR in the case of illegal mining on the HSVP land in Sector 25-A to The Tribune correspondent.

While the Mines and Geology Department, Haryana, has slapped weak charges against ‘unknown persons’, the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) has conveniently passed the buck to the Panchkula HSVP Estate Officer.

When contacted, NK Payal, HSVP’s executive engineer for Panchkula, said: “This area does not fall under my jurisdiction. Still I’d written a letter to the Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police and the SHO of the Chandimandir police station on Thursday. The jurisdiction of this commercial HSVP land in Sector 25-A falls under the Estate Officer. His phone was not reachable. So I wrote to him, detailing the menace of illegal mining here, on Saturday.”

The FIR, by Deepak Hooda, senior geologist of the Mines and Geology Department, was registered on Friday under Section 21(4) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act - 1957 and Section 379 of the IPC.

The FIR marked to Zail Singh, ASI, for investigation reads: “The field staff of the Mining Department inspected the area of Sector 25-A, Panchkula. During the inspection, it was discovered that on the edge of the river of the plot, a deep pit was discovered in which there were signs of fresh mining. On asking local residents, nobody could say who owned the plot and who had carried out the mining. Hence, after investigation you are requested to lodge a case under Section 21(4) of the Mines Minerals (DR) Act - 1957 and various provisions of the IPC against the persons/owners who have carried out illegal mining and caused loss to the state exchequer and inform this office”.

Section 21(4) only pertains to seizure of mineral, tool, equipment and vehicle, which had been used for illegal mining and transportation. Under the Act, the equipment can be seized and confiscated.

“The relevant provision of the Act, which is Section 21(1) for illegal mining, has not been invoked. The punishment under Section 21(1) is imprisonment up to 5 years and a fine of Rs 5,00,000 per hectare,” said a resident.

The other provision invoked is Section 379 of the IPC, which is related to simple theft. The punishment under this Section can extend to imprisonment up to 3 years.

When The Tribune asked the residents, they cited instances where the HSVP had marked boundaries of their land near Sector 24, Panchkula, with a barbed wire fence.

“They have even put up a board, identifying that the area was owned by the HSVP, which reads: ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’. Why can’t they do the same thing here? All they have done so far is digging up trenches at the entrance. If the HSVP authorities were serious, they’d erect a similar wall or a fence here, but they haven’t even cared to file an FIR about illegal mining on their land. Also, the Mining Department has taken a weak stance on the issue,” the residents rued.