Mismanagement in mining of minor minerals

There should not be a clash between the required policies and their efficacies to resolve the existing problems. Only a few days back , through these columns we highlighted the need of installation of a high tech surveillance system that could on account of its inbuilt system send warning signals about illegal mining of minor minerals of our river basins so as to contain illegal mining activities. That installation process is stalled because there are uncertainties about the funds for the much required project. Primarily, why are there so many things at stake to find an opportunity or have ”arranged” series of opportunities for mining illegally or virtually looting the mineral stuff is because of its tremendous demand in the market, especially of the sand etc coupled with defective / deficient official policies.
As is fairly known that there are several key projects under construction , roads, highways, buildings, bridges, Ring Roads, Gram Sadak Yojna roads, widening of roads and the like where demand for mineral products is many times more than the usual supply . That behaves and acts as a double edged weapon in the shape of resulting in the extending or deferring of the timeline of completion of most of such projects and the resultant cost escalation and encouraging illegal mining due to the most favourable market conditions prevailing as material which should have come through authorised channels does come via means or ways other than legal and authorised. The menace is to this extent existing and ”flourishing” that during 2020-21, as many as 3021 vehicles carrying 92000 metric tons of minor minerals were seized and a whooping amount of fine of Rs.6.10 was realised. These are reported and recorded offences in mining activities, how much more it could be in real terms, can only be visualised.
Why is , therefore, such a scenario , a blend of confusion, mess , uncertainty and absence of formulating viable policies and decisions taken , existing ? Is the department of UT Geology and Mining alone responsible for complicating of issues regarding the minor minerals? Are traditional regions or slots of blocks in the few districts hitherto identified for allotment having turned either not viable for extraction purposes or being not in a position to satisfy the increasing demand for the construction material in respect of minor minerals ? Are vast potentials existing in other districts especially in Jammu district not harnessed and , therefore, why inordinate delay is caused in granting vital clearances from whichever concerned authority for making operational new mining blocks so as to tide over the present position?
On the one hand, an assessment of mineral resources available in river and stream basins having already made taking into effect and having regard to the required specifications as per recommendations made by the Jammu and Kashmir Environment Impact Assessment Authority , the question is as to why the Department of Geology and Mining has not responded to positively by evolving a mechanism to diffuse the present crisis and why not the higher authorities in the government come out with a lasting solution . Adhering to non flexibility and not relaxing certain rules and thus creating uncertainties and resorting to deferral mode was going to accentuate the position if seen purely from the angle of demand for and supply of the minor minerals . Whatever is to be done is to be done within the UT even within the districts itself where identified river basin and blocks for mining are available as the alternative of imports does not arise at all by any logic whatsoever.
The simple economic solution to the existing mismatch, therefore, is increasing the production of the minor minerals hence the supply which can be done by identified additional blocks to be permitted to be made operational. The premise of formulating policies and procedures, therefore, is that the existing operational blocks cannot fulfil the needs of the material required for prestigious and critical projects as also for private demand . Let developmental activities, therefore, not get impeded.