CAG Points To Illegal Mining In Jammu And Kashmir

CAG Points To Illegal Mining In Jammu And Kashmir

22 April 2013
The Economic Times


Jammu: Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pointed to granting of mining leases by Jammu and Kashmir government in protected areas in contravention of Supreme Court orders. 'Granting of mining lease in protected areas has led to 'illegal mining' which indicated casual approach of the (Geology and Mining) department towards the sensitive issue of environmental protection,' CAG report for the year ending March 31, 2012, stated. 'It was seen in the audit that 1,11,613 metric tonnes of gypsum minerals were extracted by 13 lessees during the period 2007-2012 in these areas,' it said. Coordinator Geology and Mining Kashmir had stated that the Supreme Court notification prohibiting mining in protected areas would affect prospects of gypsum mining in the state as all gypsum-bearing areas in Kashmir province fall within 1 km radius of wildlife sanctuary, it noted. However, the report said the reply is not tenable as granting of mining lease and extraction of the mineral in protected areas by the department is in clear violation of the ruling of the Supreme Court. Supreme Court had notified (in December 2006) that areas falling within 10 km of the boundary of national park and wildlife sanctuary are eco-sensitive zones and extraction of minerals in such areas is prohibited. The department did not adhere to the directions of Supreme Court and granted mining lease for extraction of gypsum within and in vicinity of Kazinag National Park and Limber-Lachipura wildlife Sanctuary despite reservations raised by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Commissioner and Secretary to the state government forests department, it said. The physical verification of the mining sites by audit revealed that enforcement of conditions like raising of green belt by planting native species around leased areas, dump sites,metal topping of major approach and haul roads, stacking of top soil in earmarked areas of dump sites by lessees had not been ensured by the department, CAG report revealed. The mineral gypsum is natural hydrated sulphate and is used in manufacture of cement, plaster of paris, distemper, wall board textiles, fertiliser, paint and in rubber industry. The state has 160 million metric tonnes reserves of gypsum in Baramulla, Doda and Ramban districts of Jammu and Kashmir.