Mining mafia active even during lockdown restrictions

Doda, Kathua, Shopian worst affected districts

Inadequate check posts, lack of coordination main reasons

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 2: Notwithstanding the claims of the Government, the mining mafia is active even during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown restrictions with majority of incidents taking place in Doda, Kathua and Shopian and sporadic ones in the rest of the districts. This is mainly because of lack of coordination among all the concerned agencies and inadequate check posts of the Geology and Mining Department.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that lockdown imposed to check spread of Novel Coronavirus has failed to curb the activities of the mining mafia, which is continuously making attempts to rob the mineral wealth as per their convenience thereby causing huge loss to the exchequer of the J&K Union Territory.
As per the reports, majority of incidents are taking place at late in the evening or in the wee hours despite the fact that during this period there remains curfew as per the orders of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Government of J&K UT.
Though majority of illegal mining incidents have come to the fore from Doda, Kathua and Shopian districts yet other areas of the J&K Union Territory too have witnessed activities of the mining mafia albeit not at large scale, the reports further said while disclosing that in Doda district major activities of the mining mafia have been noticed in Thathri Sub-Division.
They disclosed that residents of Phagsoo Jangalwar brought to the notice of all the concerned authorities a number of times that illegal mining was taking place in their area particularly near the temple of Baba Budhi Dass Jangalwar but till date no action has been taken.
Moreover, authorities including the Thathri Police Station were informed a number of times about illegal mining in Shibnote area but activities have not been stopped till date much to the disappointment of the people, who have also shared with EXCELSIOR the videos clearly depicting the extent of illegal mining.
Similarly, the people of various parts of Kathua have been protesting against the illegal mining during the past many days. They have also been voicing serious concern over the failure of the concerned authorities to control the activities of the mafia.
“The reports about seizure of vehicles and registration of FIR from the Shopian and some other districts of Kashmir valley also clearly indicate that lockdown restrictions have failed to curb the activities of mining mafia”, sources said, adding “it is a matter of serious concern that while there are restrictions over the movement of common masses the mining mafia is having a field day”.
It is pertinent to mention here that in a meeting held on April 21, 2020, the Director of Geology and Mining Department had raised the issue of illegal mining activities being noticed even during the lockdown. Accordingly, the Commissioner Secretary to Government, Industries and Commerce Department had asked him to take up the matter with the Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police of Jammu and Kashmir Divisions seeking their intervention towards curbing the menace of illegal mining.
“However, the ground situation has largely remained unchanged”, sources said, adding “had there been enough coordination among all the concerned agencies like administration of districts concerned, Geology and Mining Department’s field teams and Police Department the illegal mining could have been curbed completely”.
They further said, “though Geology and Mining Department is trying its level best to control the activities of mafia but in the absence of adequate manpower and check posts the mafia is succeeding in carrying out illegal activities”.
When contacted, Director of Geology and Mining Department Vikas Sharma said, “whenever the incident of illegal mining comes to our notice we immediately activate our field staff and pass on information to the concerned police as well as district administration”, adding “we are trying to complete the process of allotting mining blocks as early as possible so that there remains no space for mining mafia to carry out illegal activities”.
In response to a question, the Director said, “it is a fact that at many places we don’t have check posts but the same will be ready within next few months”, adding “we are hopeful that within next three-four months our efforts to curb the illegal activities will start yielding desirable results”.