Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Saturday urged the J&K government to formulate a revised policy to address the issues pertaining to viability of industrial units and the livelihood of thousands of families associated with geology and mining activities in J&K.
In a statement issued here, Bukhari said that till the policy is chalked out, the government must allow extraction and lifting of raw material including stones, sand and aggregate on Short Term Permit basis.
“Since there is a blanket ban on stone quarrying and sand digging activities in both divisions of J&K, the government must issue Short Term Permits to the concerned stakeholders so that the closed crusher units are made functional. This way the livelihood of lakhs of people who solely depend on this business can be reinstated,” he remarked.
Bukhari said that the ban on extraction and lifting of raw material including stones, sand, gravel and aggregate has not only created acute shortage of key construction material in the market but has also caused huge cost escalation, affecting overall developmental activities in private and public sector across both the divisions of union territory.
“The local quarry owners at Athwajan, Panthachowk, Zewan, Khanmouh in Srinagar and Kathua, Samba, Akhnoor, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar in Jammu division should be allowed to go for extraction and lifting of raw material on Short Term Permit basis and similarly in Baramulla, Kupwara, Budgam, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Anantnag rural areas, Panchayats should be authorized to allow lifting and extraction of raw material in their respective areas,” Bukhari demanded.
Emphasizing on the need for a revised policy on geology and mining activities in J&K, Bukhari urged the government to ask the concerned department to replicate the policies feasible clauses of Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand models which provide safeguards to the locals in minor mineral exploitation processes and ensures their livelihood is not jeopardized by illegal mining and e-auctioning processes.
“Since the first claim on local resources rightfully belongs to the natives of J&K, the government must chalk-out a protective mechanism as the illegal extraction of raw material has deprived lakhs of local families of their occupation and exposed consumers to skyrocketing prices of key construction materials,” he observed.
The JKAP president demanded that all the left out mineral blocks in J&K should be well demarcated and notified within the radius of around eight kilometres for stone crusher units and at least 50 per cent of these demarcated blocks should be reserved for the local stakeholders.
The JKAP president said around 600 stone crusher units have been badly hit by the faulty policies of J&K government and almost all these units across J&K are presently at the verge of closure.
“In Kashmir division the stone crusher units set up in industrial areas are being asked for NOCs from flood and irrigation and fisheries departments likewise in Jammu the stone crusher units are not being allowed to extract raw material within their vicinities. With the result these unit holders have been rendered defunct and are not in a position to repay their loans,” Bukhari pleaded.
Bukhari said that the faulty policies of the government have led to shortage of key construction material which has not only resulted into huge cost escalation but has also put the developmental activities to a grinding halt in both private and public sectors across J&K since last year.