This year, sand mining in Jammu and Kashmir has become a hazardous and exorbitant business.
The sand contractor Ahmad said the truck filled with sand gets delivered to them at night and there’s always the danger of their vehicle being seized by the police.
This particular business has gone underground after the authorities last year implemented rules reported in 2016 for the extraction of all minor minerals, including sand and gravel from riverbeds. The new rules made it mandatory for minors to obtain environmental clearances before starting mining operations. Due to this, for the first time non-locals of Jammu and Kashmir have acquired riverbed mining rights.
But many miners are going against these rules, the contractor said. They also claimed that the risk involved in illegal mining is driving up the costs. The prime reason why the price of the sand has become exorbitant is that the miners are no longer locals. The sand extractor complained that the Kashmiris, now have to buy their own sand from non-locals at a higher price.
The end of Article 35A states that mining rights had been reserved for the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which has become open to all Indian citizens. Since December 2019, more than four-hundred minor mineral blocks have been auctioned in Jammu and Kashmir. Most of them have been won by firms and individuals from outside the Union Territory.