In a bid to bring transparency in sand mining sector, Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved major policy changes to enable the government to grant contracts by auction of mining blocks in strategically established clusters through progressive bidding instead of the earlier process of auction by individual mines.
The decision came during the Cabinet meeting held Wednesday under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
It was decided that the new policy would come into force two months after the Cabinet approval to the Punjab State Sand and Gravel Policy, 2018 and amendment to the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013, an official statement issued here said.
The move would help substantially increase the royalty receipt of the state exchequer, provide adequate supply at fair price to the consumer and curb illegal mining.
It has also been decided that the department of mining would launch an online Punjab Sand portal for sale of sand to all the consumers.
All transactions/payments will be captured through an online real-time monitoring system. The sale of sand would be controlled by electronic documentation linked to the central documentation, with modern facility, and the daily progress report would be uploaded on the portal.
As per the new policy, the mining rights of concession quantity of sand and gravel in mining blocks identified by a process would be put to bidding through transparent e-auction process, the statement said. Only registered companies, partnerships, societies including cooperative societies, sole proprietorship, individuals and consortia of up to three such entities would be eligible to bid, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions. The average annual turnover of the bidder during the last three fiscal ending March 31 should not be less than 50 per cent of the reserve price of the mining block he bids for.
Notably, during 2017-18, four progressive bid e-auctions of minor mineral mines were held. Due to speculative bidding in these auctions, it resulted in a significant number of mines being auctioned at increased prices.
However, many of the contractors failed to operationalise these mines, which led to dearth of supply of sand and gravel, causing the market price of these commodities to trade at higher levels, the statement said.
Amendment in Industrial Policy
To attract investments, Punjab Cabinet decided to amend the industrial policy to give investment incentives by way of Net SGST on intrastate sales to promote business enterprises in the state.
The cabinet also approved global tendering for the upcoming hi-tech cycle valley on a 100-acre industrial park in Ludhiana, an official statement said here.
The Cabinet noted that since the government could not give direct concessions to industry in matters of land acquisition, other incentives should be provided through amendment to the policy so that both the state and the industry get the best deal through measures such as global tendering.
The incentive under the present policy would only be applicable for such investment proposals where Common Application Form has been submitted by March 31, 2020.
With respect to the cycle valley to be developed in Dhananshu village of Ludhiana district, as per an earlier decision of the state government, the Cabinet decided that the 100 acres of undeveloped land would be allotted through an objective, open, competitive and technical bidding process to a well-established company of international repute.
The selected project company would be responsible for the development of the entire industrial park in the allotted land. It would develop its own anchor unit in 50 acres and in the remaining 50 acres the company would invite major national and international manufacturers as ancillary and/or vendor units, the statement said.
50 Per cent reservation for women in chairpersons for panchayat samiti zila parishad
Punjab Cabinet also decided to extend the enhanced 50 per cent reservation for women in the matter of rotation for the office of the panchayat sarpanch to the office of the chairperson of panchayat samitis and zila parishads.
The ordinance shall be submitted to Governor of Punjab V P Singh Badnore within seven days of the Cabinet's grant of approval, an official spokesperson said.
The state government, led by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, had enhanced reservation for women in these bodies from 33 to 50 per cent last year.
As per the ordinance, the principle of rotation for the purpose of reservation of offices would commence from the first election to be held after commencement of the Act.