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Punjab To Re-Auction Sand Quarries, Increase Reserve Price Following Collusive Bidding

CHANDIGARH – With collusive bidding by the “mining mafia” thwarting Punjab Government’s attempts to auction 13 sand quarries in the state, the government has decided to re- auction these. The government also proposes to make amends in the mining policy to ensure that the re- auction sails through.

After the Punjab Cabinet approves the re-auction of the quarries at a Cabinet meeting scheduled for January 28, the Punjab Industries Department proposes to increase the earnest money to be deposited for participating in the auction, raise the reserve price of each of these quarries and have a say in calling off the auction without assigning any reason, in case collusive bidding is suspected.

Talking to The Tribune, Anil Joshi, Industries Minister, said they now proposed to increase the earnest money from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the reserve price. “Even the reserve price of all these quarries will be enhanced, based on the bids received in the auction of these mines on January 10-11. Since the bids received during the e-auction of these mines were several times higher than the reserve price (almost 100 times), we will suitably increase the reserve price of these sand quarries,” he said.

As against the government’s efforts to auction 22 sand quarries, the highest bidders for only nine quarries have deposited 50 per cent of the total bid amount and staked claim to extract sand and gravel from these mines. For the remaining 13 quarries – Chandiala (SAS Nagar), Amritpur (Kapurthala), Kailon, Harta, Dandiana Kalan, Deowala. Hargarh, Patti and Khalwana (all in Hoshiarpur), the state government had sent offer letters to the second highest bidder for starting mining operations, after the highest bidders failed to deposit the bid amount.

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