Srinagar, February 17: Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta chaired a meeting on Thursday to review the functioning and progress of the Department of Geology and Mines. The meeting was held to discuss mining activities with a view to generating employment opportunities and preparing the future plan of operations.
While presiding over the meeting, the chief secretary instructed the officers to prepare a future mining plan setting out the details of how many people the department will generate jobs for and what type of economic activity the department will add.
To ensure uniformity in the rates of minor minerals in the districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the Chief Secretary has directed that the number of blocks of minerals identified for mining operations be evenly distributed in the districts.
The Chief Secretary also highlighted the availability of various minor minerals at reasonable prices and directed the Department of Mines to submit a comparative rate sheet. He also said that the mine monitoring system and electronic market should be rolled out as a priority as soon as possible.
A detailed presentation was made highlighting the achievements of the departments and the main interventions that have been introduced and the projects that are in the pipeline.
It has been announced that an e-Marketplace (online web portal) for consumers will be provided allowing them to purchase minor minerals (online) at rates notified by the government in a particular district. The portal will provide details of providers by district/block as well as tariffs notified by the district tariff setting committee.
It was stated that the Department, on the one hand, will provide online services to consumers and, at the same time, will control the amount of material (minor mineral) mined and sold and reconcile the total amount consumed by the entrepreneur per month or per an – viz-a-viz fee charged.
Regarding the identification of mineral blocks, it was reported that 74 new minor mineral blocks of limestone, gypsum, marble, etc. were identified during 2021-22 and sent to the relevant DCs for one-stop clearance.
To curb illegal mining activity, this department has launched a series of measures. He said the government has formed a multi-disciplinary task force cell at the district level under the chairmanship of the relevant deputy commissioners to control and curb the illegal mining of minor minerals.
He also said that the Department carries out regular checks and seizures and that 5082 transporters were seized for illegal transport and fined Rs 13.76 cr by the offenders during the year 2021-22 ( by January 2022). In line with MOEF & CC guidelines, the process of an Android-based mobile application integrated with an online-assisted portal of online weighbridges for tracking minor mineral transport has been initiated.
Regarding the construction of Hi-Tech mineral checkpoints with CCTV camera, it was reported that out of a total of 50 and 60 checkpoints in Jammu and Kashmir respectively, 11 each have been completed and are fully operational in the two divisions.
In line with NGT guidelines, the Department has already introduced transport permits/challans printed with security features such as unique barcode, fugitive ink background, invisible ink mark and watermark.