Punjab Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa today said that it has come to the notice of the government that illegal sand mining was still being carried out on the banks of Sutlej and Ravi rivers. He said the land, where the unlawful activity is taking place, would be auctioned for mining and it is expected that it would generate a revenue of Rs 100 crore. "Panchayat land is located near Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers. Illegal sand mining near Sutlej and Ravi rivers is taking place which has come into our notice now," the rural development and panchayats minister told reporters. He said that his department had identified about 3,000 acres of such land near Sutlej and Ravi rivers where illegal mining was taking place. "We, in consultation with the mining department, will get this land auctioned for mining which is expected to generate Rs 100 crore revenue for the department," the minister said. He informed the mediapersons that Panchayat elections in the state are due in July this year. "Delimitation is taking place in villages according to Punjab and Haryana High court directions.
First, Zila Parishads and Block Samitis elections will be held and thereafter, Panchayat elections will take place," Bajwa said. However, he said, there was no proposal for implementing the criteria of minimum education qualification for candidates contesting panchayat polls, as done by the Haryana government. Bajwa said his ministry was trying to improve the functioning of the panchayats and also raise resources of panchayats, zila parishads and block samitis to make them self sufficient. The MLA from Fathegarh Chruian said his department would emphasise on getting about 20,000 acres of his department's encroached land across the state free of unauthorised occupation. He said as of now only 1,000 acres has been freeed from illegal occupation.
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