Exploration of Paddar Sapphire mines


Besides gifted by the nature with all the beauty, flora and fauna and, therefore, a favourite tourist destination , although full potential not explored and exploited as yet, Jammu and Kashmir is also famous for its tremendous mineral reserves like precious gem stones fond in the mines of picturesque Paddar valley in Kishtwar. These sapphire gems are feast to eyes on account of their peculiar peacock blue colour. The problem that such a mineral wealth has not been explored optimally in spite of the having an elastic demand as the same are considered the best in the world , has been attracting the attention of the successive Governments. All conventional ways of exploration were proved not only as economically not viable despite the price of the sapphire in international markets being astonishingly bewildering and optimal exploration followed by proper polishing and shinning would prove a financial bonanza for Jammu and Kashmir but funds crunch and absence of latest means to mine in extreme geographical conditions of the area specific, proved great impediments to make the best of these rich mines . Scientific exploration, therefore, was decided to be the only alternative to address the hard core issues keeping in view that such type of sapphire were rarely found in the world which means we hold absolute monopoly in having such priceless reserves. Since rough estimates are that the revenue generated on account of proper utilization of the mines per year could be phenomenal as the reserves of sapphire gems are believed to be valuing around Rs.3000 crore while some believe the same to be anywhere between Rs. 6000 to Rs.8000 crore, steps therefore, are required to do more in respect of exploration . Not only for the consideration of the net worth of the sapphire in the mines ,but due to the exploration process, the UT Government can address the problem of unemployment in the area to a larger extent. The need , therefore, is felt to develop Sapphire exploration and other activities related thereto as an industry. Without mincing words, if such priceless mines would have been in any other country, the same could have been explored in such a commercial way so as to change the economic destiny of that country . The mines situated at an altitude of nearly 16000 feet above the sea level and spread over an area of 116 kilometres are really a hidden treasure and need to be utilized vis-a-vis huge commercial potential these mines carry. It is heartening to note that the need to have these mines explored scientifically has started been felt in the real term and in this connection Geology Survey of India has done the preliminary survey of the entire area having these mines. What should follow next is exploration on modern lines employing latest technology and hence scientific exploration. That it is decided to constitute a committee which besides evaluating the quantity of sapphire reserves and recommend a suitable mechanism for its scientific exploration is a step forward in realising the objective. However, such a committee must have representation from experts in the field and what is more important is the time factor within which the recommendations / suggestions and the way out must be advised by them to the Government. Cost analysis of exploration and overhead expenses and the realisable value or the proceeds of exploration must be professionally worked out so that the exploration proved all economically prudent and quite profitable. The claim that J & K Minerals had its activities going on uninterrupted despite constraints of COVID-19 pandemic and having managed not to let vital projects underway ”starve” for necessary construction material like sand, boulders etc as also keep supply chains active for supplying raw material to mineral based industries in the UT, depicts as to when there was a resolve, performance never suffered even under trying circumstances. With the same spirit, the speed of extraction of other minerals in the UT must be upped as in respect of Kalakote mines , not only labour adjustments based on requirement basis must be made but safety audits must be conducted at regular frequencies.