Suspension of process

09/03/2019

An exercise for scientific exploration and exploitation of sapphire mines in Sumcham area of Paddar in Kishtwar district was initiated in the year 2013 with the floating of global tenders by the Jammu and Kashmir Minerals Limited on the directions of the then State Government. A number of companies participated in the global tenders but no further step could be initiated in a time bound manner as all of a sudden the Industries and Commerce Department felt the necessity of engaging Transaction Advisor for technical evaluation of the bids. This led to delay in proceeding further with the global tender exercise and it was only in December 2017 that the Board of Directors of J&K Minerals Limited discussed the technical evaluation report submitted by the Transaction Advisor vis-a-vis two companies. Accordingly, the Board desired that the report be submitted to the Technical Scrutiny Committee for further analysis so that matter is placed before the Board of Directors afresh before referring the same to the State Cabinet for consideration and approval. The much talked about exploration and exploitation of sapphire mines in Paddar area of Kishtwar district is unlikely to become a reality in near future as a high-level committee has recommended suspension of the entire process which was initiated way back in 2013 with the floating of global tenders. Moreover, it has suggested assessing of exact quantum of reserves before initiating any fresh exercise.
Following imposition of Governor’s Rule in the State, Government constituted a Group of Officers headed by Administrative Secretary, Home Department to examine the process followed since inception for the selection of M/s Mineworks Pvt Ltd, New Delh for exploration and exploitation of sapphire mines in Joint Venture with J&K Minerals Limited. The Group of Officers comprising of Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Planning, Development and Monitoring, Industries and Commerce and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs was also asked to examine the relevant mining laws and rules and make recommendations based on the critical assessment. It is pertinent to mention here that in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15 and Section 23C of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 the State Government vide SRO 302 dated July 19, 2017 made the Rules. The Group of Officers has also noted with serious concern that no serious effort was made to analyze exact quantum of reserves.
“Unless exact reserve is ascertained floating global tenders would not serve the purpose”, sources said quoting the observations made by the officers. It is worthwhile to mention here that mining lease in respect of sapphire deposits in Sumcham area of Paddar was granted in the favour of Jammu and Kashmir Minerals. Till date the focus is only on collection of rough sapphire from the screening of mine spoil and digging of trenches and then putting the small collection to auction. This exercise has generated meagre resources for the Minerals Limited so far.

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