Most of the sand mining contracts have gone to the outsiders in Kashmir this year through a bidding process done via online medium.
As per reports, it includes all contracts over 10 mineral blocks in the river Jhelum in Srinagar, 26 out of 38 mineral blocks in Baramulla, and seven out four in Budgam.
As far as South Kashmir goes, over 60% of mining contracts have also gone to the outsiders.
The bidding by the Geology and Mining Department happened while ongoing high-speed internet ban continues in J&K. There are many apprehensions regarding the consequences. One of them is as regards the affect on the livelihood of thousands of people in the region from contractors to sand diggers, labourers to transporters, who are directly or indirectly associated with the extraction of minerals. Many politicians, on both sides of the political spectrum in the Valley, voiced concerns through press statements.
Importantly, a traders body described the policy adopted with regard to allotment of mining and extraction contracts as “alarming and against public interest”.
According to it, the auction bid for 15 blocks in Pulwama has jumped from the previous Rs 2 crore to Rs 17.82 crore. There is no way that the local contractors can compete and thus are disadvantaged, thus believed the trader’s body.
There are not the concerns over the livelihood of the people alone but there reports that the Geology and Mining Department has done the bidding on the basis of particular stretch and a uniform depth of excavation in these stretches. It is surely going to have an adverse impact on a number of lift Irrigation and Water Supply Schemes on River Jhelum and rivulets which are subservient to a fixed bed level to operate. These levels can get disturbed through uncontrolled and unregulated extraction, thus can jeopardize these schemes. Also, it is important to keep in mind the rivers flow dynamics and sediment transportation which is a very complex process and the same shall be factored in these operations. Any bulk or unplanned extraction can prove disastrous as the same threaten embankments of the river. Even a slight rise in the water level could become catastrophic. The government must be alive and shall take all measures in preserving the water bodies, especially the Jhelum, the lifeline of Kashmir.