of the total 95 percent mineral blocks auctioned by Delhi-run regime in the territory, the non-local mining companies have bagged almost all the contracts for extraction of minerals from water bodies with locals saying the authorities are twisting clauses in favour of the outsiders.
Majority of mineral blocks auctioned for extraction of minerals are now under the control of non-local contractors who have won online bids invited by the Geology and Mining Department.
“Prior to August 2019, the minerals from water bodies were extracted exclusively by locals who used to pay royalty to the department. The abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir paved the way for non-locals to compete in the e-auctioning for extraction of Kashmir’s minerals,” the locals said. According to Geology and Mining department’s data, the non-local contractors have bagged majority of mineral blocks in all the districts of Kashmir where the bidding has been completed.
In Srinagar, all 10 blocks have gone to the non-resident contractors against the bidding amount of Rs 5.08 crore. In North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, 38 blocks of minerals have fetched Rs 20.15 crore to the department. Of these, 26 have been secured by contractors from outside of Kashmir for the first time in the history of Kashmir.
In Budgam, the total 7 blocks auctioned at Rs 4.67 crore, 4 on the river Jhelum have gone to contractors from India, while Kashmiri contractors have bagged the remaining three blocks on tributaries of Jhelum. Outside companies have won mining rights over more than 60% blocks in Pulwama district.
Joint Director, Geology and Mining Department, Imtiyaz Ahmad said that around 95 percent auctioning of the mineral blocks have been completed in Kashmir. “The condition and clauses which were incorporated in the bidding process gave a clear hint that the process is aimed to hand over mineral blocks to outside companies. Despite all this, local contractors participated but unavailability of internet during winter months when the process was started gave a clear edge to outsiders who won around 90 percent of contracts for extraction of minerals in Kashmir,” said President, Quarry Association Muhammad Maqbool Parra.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sheikh Ashiq said, “There is no way that the local contractors can compete and thus are at disadvantage.”