It has been announced by the Jammu & Kashmir Expert Appraisal Committee (JKEAC) that it cannot pass the sand mining cases related to the Jhelum river for grant of environmental clearance.
The latest recommendations from JKEAC are very important as the committee and various partners such as public works department, Jammu and Kashmir’s flood control department and fisheries department were receiving pressure from top authorities to fast-track environmental clearances to sand mining projects.
JKEAC recommended that all the in-stream cases which are related to river Jhelum and are pending before JKEAC, should be returned to the project proponents on because of not being in accordance with the provisions/ stipulations under National Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and JK Water Resources Act, 2010.
The Committee examined the mining blocks on multi-date/multi-season high resolution Google Earth satellite images one by one. It found that all the mining blocks are situated in the middle of flowing water channel of river Jhelum and the cases are sheer in-stream commercial mining proposals.
Earlier, The Third Pole reported that more than 250 mineral blocks in the Jhelum and its tributaries (which include sand, boulders and gravel) were auctioned over the past few months by Jammu & Kashmir’s geology and mining department. Majority of the successful bidders are not from the region. For the first time mining rights were offered to bidders outside Jammu and Kashmir after revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under the Indian Constitution on August 5 last year.
JKEAC has expressed that it cannot support the riverbed mining projects related to River Jhelum as the District Survey Reports (prepared by geology and mining department) which are expected to recognise the locations of minor minerals on the basis of scientific studies which also include replenishment data, do not comply with the guidelines of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
JKEAC has held the geology and mining department of Jammu and Kashmir government responsible for unscientifically identifying and e-auctioning mining blocks in River Jhelum without any proper investigation or technical inputs from Kashmir’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department. As per Jammu and Kashmir Water Resource Act, he Kashmir’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department is the sole custodian of all rivers and streams of Jammu and Kashmir.