Sapphire mines in Paddar Kishtwar

Among other mineral wealth in its bosom, Jammu and Kashmir State is gifted by nature to possess Sapphire reserves which outshine even the diamonds and are considered the best in the world. Its bluish colour gives it a distinction among the best sapphires of the world. The tragedy, however, is that we are lagging far behind in exploring, exploiting and marketing techniques even in elementary form. The reasons are that official lethargy and administrative torpidity act as stumbling block and, we are afraid, the scenario is destined to remain deep rooted till an assurance about getting salaries and perks dot on time, continue to remain embedded and unrelated to the quantum of output and the performance , even nothing thereof cannot impinge upon “the right to salaries”.
Jammu and Kashmir Minerals Limited could have earned laurels for the state and could have carved out a niche for it among the best in the country, had it not virtually failed in starting scientific exploration and exploitation of Sapphire mines in Kishtwar’s Paddar area. It failed to take any steps towards scientific exploration of Sapphire mines and kept focus only on collection of rough sapphire from the screening of the mine spoil and digging of trenches to put small “catch” for auction. This did not result in any appreciable revenue collections.
It may be recalled that nearly 29 years back the State Government granted lease in favour of the Jammu and Kashmir Minerals Ltd (JKML). Global tendering process, on the other hand, which was set into motion nearly five years back has been shelved and deferred without any cogent reasons. JKML comes under the control of Industries and Commerce Department. The erratic ways of the entire process has its constellation reaction as the period of lease expired in 2009 which was not renewed for more than eight years for reasons not known which resulted in the JKML paying no serious attention towards the Sapphire mines . It may be noted that the Government renewed the lease in the year 2016 for a period of 25 years on ex post facto basis of 2009 when it had, in fact, expired.
It was mandatory for the JKML to confirm to the requirements that were, by dint of the other proviso of the lease, enjoined upon it to fulfil which it did not and failed to come up to the expectations of the Government which resulted in the exploration and exploitation of this unique mineral wealth to the advantage of the State economy remaining only a dream or confining to the official files. If regular monitoring and follow up measures from the Government would have been there in a distinct and well defined way , perhaps the exercise to complete the global tendering process initiated in 2013 would have been completed by now which astonishingly, has not been done. A good measure of interest was, on the other hand, visible having been elicited by two short listed parties within the fixed timeframe. It can well be extrapolated that no one from both the sides seemed to be investing the requisite interest in the entire exercise loaded otherwise with tremendous economic gains for the State economy.
We, however, do not believe only in pin pointing lacunae and shortcomings in the issues concerned but with a positive outlook try to impress upon the authorities to rectify the areas where most needed but in the instant case, we are given to understand that till date, neither in the global tendering nor in the scientific exploration areas , any positive development has taken place, a worrisome scenario which needs to be addressed very seriously. Let us write epithets and not epitaphs in respect of natural bounties like Sapphire reserves, of course, which depend upon our attitude and dedication and not our utter neglect and incompetence.