The Punjab government on Saturday imposed a ban on sand mining at night, according to a statement.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who chaired a review meeting over the issue, directed police and the Enforcement Directorate (Mining) to take strict action against those found engaged in mining operations at night.
Singh asked the Mining Department to ensure that no mining is undertaken by any authorised contractor in river beds or other areas after 7.30 pm and before 5 am, according to the government release.
He warned of stringent action against violators and said anyone, including officers and police personnel, found conniving in illegal sand mining operations should also be dealt with strictly.
The CM, however, ordered that there should be no hindrance to smooth movement of sand and gravel during the night in view of the construction activity going on in the state.
The availability of the material at affordable prices should also be ensured, he said, directing the Principal Secretary (Mining) to coordinate with authorised contractors to bring down prices of sand and gravel.
During the meeting, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Minister, Water Resources, told the CM that the creation of the Enforcement Directorate for mining had helped check illegal sand mining activities.
He assured the CM that sand mining operations in the state will be conducted smoothly.
Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said all commissioners of police and district police chiefs have been directed to take action against unscrupulous elements involved in illegal sand mining.
He said that additional manpower will now be deployed to check any night sand mining operations.
RN Dhoke, Additional DGP-cum-Director, Enforcement Directorate (Mining), told the CM that 70 FIRs have been registered against 93 people involved in illegal sand mining and 70 vehicles have been confiscated since the formation of the department.
Drones are being used to carry out photography of illegal sand mining sites to assess the extent of excavation done and unauthorised movement of minerals has been curbed substantially, he said.