Illicit mining and trade in minerals


Unauthorised and illicit mining of the rich minerals has been going almost on regular basis in Jammu and Kashmir despite claims to the contrary and even after suspending of mineral activities by the Government in the past . However, a tug-of- war like situation persisting in this area between the smugglers and unscrupulous traders with the Police and the Department of Geology and Mining to discourage illicit extraction and trade in it. River beds not only in identified spots but elsewhere too have been ruthlessly robbed of its mineral wealth even affecting the eco-balance and endangering the adjoining localities. The other face of the ”coin” is that even authorised mining has not been going on all impeccably and in transparent manner. Material in excess than permitted is carried away from river beds which besides affecting them also robe the Government of its due revenue and thus cause loss to the public exchequer. If such a phenomenon is called breaking the law and thus commissioning of a crime, it will not be inappropriate especially the syndicate comprising in this illicit trade being some smugglers and traders even from the neighbouring states. That scenario denotes tackling the problem with measures not only conventional but by employing technological ways to contain and control to a larger extent such illicit trade and over milking of the river beds for mineral extraction. In this connection, it is heartening to note that GPS based vehicle tracking system and load sensors are sought to be introduced by the UT Department of Geology and Mining on the vehicles registered with the department of transportation of minerals . The innovative step needs to be hailed as after some initial hesitancy and problems, the introduction of this system would hopefully have a smooth sail so that the twin purposes of stopping illicit trade and evasion of payment of royalty to the Government would get accomplished. It is but natural that a proper process has got to be gone through involving identifying of authorised vendors and training the staff in getting acquainted with the new system. The vendors after their formalities of tendering etc once completed , the empanelled among them must provide quality service both during and post sale so that ”wilful” non functioning of the devices and sensors were dealt with promptly and timely. That is precisely for the reason that although the new system would not totally check and stop various illegal methods adopted while extraction of the minerals and afterwards and its transportation and sale in the market, yet a properly working tracking device would mean a lot. This fact too has to be borne in mind that already the prices of such material having gone unexpectedly high in the market and also continuing to be short in supply , adopting unfair means even after putting such vehicles on tracking system laced with fitting of the devices, cannot be ruled out for obvious reasons. That, after various formalities and tendering etc were over, the sale and servicing centres would be opened within a month by the selected vendors denotes the urgency desired to be accorded to the introduction of the new system. It is a matter of satisfaction that preliminaries about fitting such devices having almost been completed as claimed by the Department on the registered vehicles carrying such material . Random physical checking on various routes on these vehicles , however, will put extra restrictions to skip or outwit the new system for obvious reasons. In this respect, the assurances of the Department that proper monitoring and handling of the new system by its would be trained manpower is central and quite necessary for the new system to bear its fruits. The role of Police Department is paramount in not only fully cooperating with the Geology and Mining Department to stop the wanton extraction of the rich minerals but not give any room to apprehensions that there was some sort of alleged connivance from some of its personnel to facilitate and ”protect” the illegal trade who otherwise are supposed to stop the illicit mining and trade of the minerals. While intervention of latest technologies in working of various departments especially where the nature of functioning is more outside the office premises and more in fields must be encouraged and made successful, at the same time it is imperative to make periodic analysis on comparative basis as to how much the new methods and systems proved beneficial and raised the income and revenues. A similar exercise, therefore, is much required to be undertaken by the Geology and Mining Department on regular intervals after the new tracking and sensor system on the minerals carrying vehicles were fully operationa