Srinagar, June 29 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has criticized the Indian authorities for adopting a new policy with regard to allotment of mining and extraction contracts describing it as alarming and against the interest of the Kashmiri people.

The KCCI in a statement issued in Srinagar said, “The recent bidding for mineral blocks in Kashmir valley clearly indicates that local stakeholders have been sidelined.”

“Use of financial muscle power has totally wiped them out in Srinagar and reports from other districts are equally discouraging. The auction bid for 15 blocks in Pulwama has jumped from the previous Rs 2 Crores to a whopping Rs 17.82 Crores. There is no way that the local contractors can compete and are thus disadvantaged,” the statement deplored.

The KCCI while taking jibes at the Geology and Mining Department, now directly run by New Delhi, said, the lack of protective mechanisms in the policy has deprived thousands of the families of their livelihood and exposed consumers to exploitation.

It said the introduction of heavy machinery in the extraction process would leave the local sand diggers jobless and the environmental costs are worrying. “A non-local syndicate appears to have altogether muscled out local stakeholders and is now indulging in aggressive and unfair trade practices. The cost of sand has been more than doubled,” it added.

The KCCI said that the first claim on local resources rightfully belongs to the people of Kashmir. “Utmost caution needs to be exercised in formulation of economic policies which may otherwise appear to dilute their claims or prove detrimental to the interests of people connected with trade, commerce and industry,” it said.

“The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry urges for urgent review of the mining and extraction policy to address local interests and incorporate protective clauses for stakeholders and consumers.

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