Jalandhar June 28:
Small Truck Operators Union today decided to block traffic at GT Road near Pathankot by-pass on July 1 to protest against the ''indifferent attitude'' of the state government towards the truckers transporting sand and bajri and the sand mafia operating in the areas of Mirthal and Kidi, the hub of crushers units.
Vishnu Joshi, president of the union, said despite the ban on mining of sand and bajri from the river beds in these areas and other parts of the state imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the sand mafia in total violation of the High Court orders had been engaged in mining.
He alleged that the mafia in connivance with the officials of the Industry department had been harrassing the truckers transporting sand and bajri and was pocketing crores of rupees daily through illegal mining. He said the small truckers were heavily penalised for transporting sand and bajri under the garb of the High Court orders but those indulged in illegal mining were not taken to task.
The truckers, he said, earned only a sum in the range of Rs 1,000 to 1,200 only per day for transporting the material from the crushers but were forced to pay heavy penalties to the tune of Rs 10,000 to 20,000. He alleged the government had not been listening to the genuine problems of the truckers. He blamed Industry Minister Manoranjan Kalia for the woes of the truckers.
He said the sand mafia and illegal mining had been responsible for the steep rise in the prices of sand, bajri and other construction material. ''A truck load of sand is being sold for Rs 9,000 today while it was available for Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 only before a ban was imposed on illegal mining by the High Court.