Paddar sapphire mines to get security grid

14 March 2008
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

JAMMU: As the unprecedented market value of Paddar sapphire in the recent auction has generated risk of pilferage of minerals wealth of the State, the Government has decided to set-up fool proof security grid in the areas of mines within next one month. The Government has also approached Indian Remote Sensing Centre (IRSC), Hyderabad to assess the quantum of reserves of sapphire at the earliest before going in for large scale and scientific mining. Authoritative sources told the EXCELSIOR that auction of 34 lots of Paddar sapphire which were lying with the JK Minerals Ltd for the past quite long time, has not only generated revenue to the tune of Rs 1.31 crore but also exposed the grave risk of thefts of the minerals in the aftermath of its unprecedented market value. 'The risk of pilferage was not much so far as very few people were aware about the exact value and demand of the Paddar sapphire in the international market but the auction which was conducted after a long period of 20 years, has increased the risk manifold', the sources said, adding 'everybody has now come to know that 23 grams of Paddar sapphire can generate Rs 13 lakh or more'. The evil eyes on the high-value and one of the best sapphires of the world were detected even on the second day of the auction when the bidders deliberately not allowed the auction value of one particular lot to cross Rs 4 lakh mark despite the fact that the similar lot was auctioned at Rs 13 lakh on the first day, the sources disclosed and said that this forced the authorities of JK Minerals to withdraw the lot to prevent ill-designs of the bidders. Keeping in view the threat of pilferage of high-value mineral wealth of the State, the Government has decided to set-up security grid in the Paddar sapphire mines areas within one month, the sources said, adding 'within next few days a team of senior officers will be visiting the area to work out the requirement of security apparatus'. When contacted, Minister for Industries Nawang Rigzin Jora confirmed that the risk to the Paddar sapphire which came to fore with the auction of crystals, needed to be checked at the earliest. 'The issue of security grid was discussed with the Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday and he has agreed for the same', he disclosed. 'Since the quantum of reserves of the Paddar sapphire is not known to anybody including the JK Minerals Ltd, the Government has approached Indian Remote Sensing Centre (IRSC) at Hyderabad and sought its help to work out the quantity of sapphire reserves in Paddar', he informed. The Minister said that senior officers of the Industries Department have been directed to be in touch with the IRSC authorities so that the first ever exercise could be conducted at the earliest. He also disclosed that three of the six companies which had participated in the global tenders, have been shortlisted and they have been asked to make presentations about their financial and technical capability and past experience in the mining at the earliest so that mining of the Paddar sapphire could be done in most scientific manner. Mr Jora disclosed that another auction of the Paddar sapphire will be held in May.