Centre attempting to usurp J&K lithium resources: Harsh Dev

Harsh Dev Singh addressing a press conference at Jammu on Monday.
Harsh Dev Singh addressing a press conference at Jammu on Monday.

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 29: Reacting to the statement made by Union Secretary Mines Vivek Bhardwaj that the Union Government would auction the lithium resources of J&K before December, Harsh Dev Singh, former Minister and JKNPP president, has questioned the locus of the Union Secretary in interfering in a matter which falls within the domain of State/UT Government.
He said that under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957, it’s the State/UT Government which has the exclusive powers of extracting and mining of minerals found on land, except of course the off shore mining falling in Centre’s domain, and it alone can hold auctions and grant permissions for mining, technically called mining concessions.
“The Centre’s move, as evident from the Mining Secretary’s statement is therefore not only unprecedented and violative of existing laws but is also an attempt to invade into the arena of the State Government,” said Singh, while addressing a press conference in Jammu today along with Ankit Love, Gagan Pratap Singh, and Purshotam Singh, the senior leaders of NPP.
Harsh Dev Singh said the Centre seemed to be desperately attempting to usurp the rich lithium resources of J&K which otherwise belong to and is property of J&K, and its people, and has possibility of catapulting the troubled State of J&K as by far the richest State in the country.”
NPP leader stressed that Government of India must stop their intended auction of J&K’s lithium mining rights planned for December by Union Ministry of Mines, as announced on 2 May which should be left to the elected Government to be formed in the J&K in future.
Harsh Dev stated that any amendment to the Offshore Mining Act to facilitate the Union Government gaining greater grip on J&K’s lithium resources was legally and morally incorrect and would amount to a dictatorial theft.
“This type of colossal theft of INR40 lakh crores has never been witnessed before in the world, and with the tensions already on J&K, such gross criminal acts by the Union Government may only serve to add more fuel to the fire in a conflict that never seems to end,” he added.