Inexorable fame of sapphire stones lying in the rich mines of Paddar area of Kishtwar district could have not only travelled far and wide but resulted in reasonably good earning to the State and generated some employment too in this otherwise economically backward area, had the concerned agencies and authorities not adopted a lackadaisical approach towards their exploration. We have not been able to derive optimum benefit from the rich reserves lying in Sumcham area as decision taking capacity, for setting in motion, the process of scientific exploitation, has remained till date a bated breath. Have we still not come out of the mindset to sit over the process of taking timely decisions and ensure completion of the projects in set time frame .? This despondency is one of the factors of areas, regions and states remaining under developed. Times are fast changing and in an era of ease of doing business stressed upon by the Prime Minister to circumvent procedural and administrative delays, such an approach is totally unwarranted.
The exploration on modern scientific lines of the mines, holding in their depths, the precious beautiful blue Logan sapphire reserves has flunked even after passing of a decade of the initiation of the process and further fate of these mines is left to conjectures. We may remind the readers that as back as in Feb 1988 , vide SRO -48, the State Government reserved the whole area of sapphire mines for exploitation by J&K Minerals Ltd in whose favour a lease was duly granted on Jan 20, 1989 vide order No – 18 -IND and also duly renewed in 2016. In the absence of viability of the project report, investment details and mine reserves not ascertained, the terms and conditions suitable and acceptable to the State Government were put forth by the J&K Minerals Limited but these attempts were aborted for many reasons followed by avoidable litigations by many interested parties. The vicious circle of lengthy procedures, delays, deferments, litigations, reluctant tendering and final bids not forthcoming, has resulted in a total earning of a paltry Rs.4.5 crore in a period of ten long years. Incredible, undoubtedly, it sounds. This “feat” of the performance of administrative machinery speaks more than it keeps guessing.
Despite decision of inviting fresh tenders for the exploration job in early 2013 and out of six intending parties, five being short listed by Tender Opening Committee, a parallel tendering process for appointment of Transaction Advisor (TA) initiated in 2016 culminated in the appointment of the TA on Jan 24, 2017 at the advice of the Finance and the Law Departments, nothing concrete has emerged in the form of desired results of exploration and earnings made by the J and K Minerals Limited. Bidding process and submission of the final bid too experienced hiccups.
Our state is fortunate in being blessed with these rich mines full of sapphire gems – stones and if these mines could be converted into tangible earning entities and at every level of administrative levels things would move speedily, ancillary tiny projects in the shape of SMEs would come up to be engaged in cutting and polishing and reshaping into gemstones, the demand for which is for jewelry items. That could happen only when exploration of natural mines would be nearing or on full capacity levels.
Let all concerned agencies responsible for scientific and modern exploration of sapphire mines right from technical , advisory, tender opening and auction conducting agency , finance and law authorities and the concerned ministry decide seriously as to why this natural reserve gasping for its reasonable but optimum exploitation is not made utility yielding entity and revenue earnings generated. Let the dismal results of utter dormancy as witnessed during last two years in the instant case not be repeated in future.