SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Tuesday expressed concern over-allotment of sand mining and mineral extraction contracts to non-residents of J&K saying the measure will rob employment opportunities from our youth and affect the livelihood of thousands of families.

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In a statement Party’s Members of Parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi while expressing concern over the discriminatory measures said last year the rights for extraction of the minerals was exclusively reserved for local contractors. “Due to the restrictions on the internet, the local contractors couldn’t participate in the on-line bidding process.  From contractors to manual sand diggers, laborers to transporters, and scores of other mineral workers who are directly or indirectly associated with the extraction of minerals, all will be in peril because local contractors failed to bid for the contract as the internet was not available to them. Whatever little they earn to manage their household chores comes from the sand mining,” the duo said.

Members of Parliament said the educated youth of J&K are already suffering due to shrinking employment opportunities aggravated by measures taken on the August 5 last year. They said the domicile policy has added to the frustration of JK youth on account of diminishing job avenues.  Unavailability of a viable private sector and the ruin caused to local hospitality, handicraft and manufacturing sectors post august 5th and successive COVID-19 induced lockdown had increased the trepidation of the unemployed youth of J&k. “All the 10 mineral blocks in river Jhelum in Srinagar have gone to outsiders; in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, 26 sand mining contracts out of 38 mineral blocks have gone to outsiders, and in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, of seven mineral blocks, four have been awarded to outsiders in the bidding process,” they said.

“This is all that New Delhi has for Kashmir; every single step of there is pushing hapless Kashmiri youth towards a chasm,” they said adding that there has been no let-up in New Delhi’s repugnance for rights of Kashmiri people especially the youth. “Leave aside the educated youth; the laborers are being robbed of their livelihood. How will seizing people’s rights, job avenues and other constitutional rights help the situation to improve. The imprudent measures will aggravate the already alienated youth. It seems that the government is on a mission of disenfranchising Kashmir in every aspect. The measures give a picture of colonial-era discrimination and mortification,” they said.

The Members of Parliament urged the government to put the new mining or extraction policy in abeyance and allow the locals to draw their sustenance from it.  “The first claim on local resources rightfully belongs to local people,” they said.

Meanwhile, the duo urged the J&K government to grant a six months extension to all PhD and Integrated PhD scholars whose residency period ends this year. “The poor lot couldn’t do any work during the post-August lockdown and subsequent COVID-19 induced crises. The Kashmir university administration is ambiguous about the fate of scholars. The university should come up with a clear cut policy on the graduate level exams; PG levels exams and other entrance tests. We also impress upon the university to grant an extension to all scholars PhD, and M Phil whose residency period is nearing an end this year. Concerned departments should be asked to take immediate steps to provide succor to scholars, and students.  The university has so far come out with ambiguous notifications on this issue. No registration fees should be charged this year from Integrated and other scholars who are in the process of completion of their thesis. All of them should be given an extra six months to complete their pending work,” they said.


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