ISLAMABAD - In Indian Oc­cupied Kashmir, of the total 95 percent mineral blocks auctioned by Delhi-run regime in the terri­tory, the non-local mining com­panies have bagged almost all the contracts for extraction of miner­als from water bodies with locals saying the authorities are twisting clauses in favour of the outsiders.

Majority of mineral blocks auc­tioned for extraction of miner­als are now under the control of non-local contractors who have won online bids invited by the Ge­ology and Mining Department, Kashmir Media Service reported

“Prior to August 2019, the min­erals from water bodies were ex­tracted exclusively by locals who used to pay royalty to the de­partment. The abrogation of spe­cial status of Jammu and Kash­mir paved the way for non-locals to compete in the e-auctioning for extraction of Kashmir’s minerals,” the locals said. According to Ge­ology and Mining department’s data, the non-local contractors have bagged majority of mineral blocks in all the districts of Kash­mir where the bidding has been completed.

In Srinagar, all 10 blocks have gone to the non-resident contrac­tors against the bidding amount of Rs 5.08 crore. In North Kash­mir’s Baramulla district, 38 blocks of minerals have fetched Rs 20.15 crore to the department. Of these, 26 have been secured by con­tractors from outside of Kashmir for the first time in the history of Kashmir.

In Budgam, the total 7 blocks auctioned at Rs 4.67 crore, 4 on the river Jhelum have gone to con­tractors from India, while Kash­miri contractors have bagged the remaining three blocks on tribu­taries of Jhelum. Outside compa­nies have won mining rights over more than 60% blocks in Pulwa­ma district.

Joint Director, Geology and Min­ing Department, Imtiyaz Ahmad said that around 95 percent auc­tioning of the mineral blocks have been completed in Kashmir. “The condition and clauses which were incorporated in the bidding pro­cess gave a clear hint that the pro­cess is aimed to hand over min­eral blocks to outside companies. Despite all this, local contractors participated but unavailability of internet during winter months when the process was started gave a clear edge to outsiders who won around 90 percent of contracts for extraction of minerals in Kashmir,” said President, Quarry Association Muhammad Maqbool Parra.

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sheikh Ashiq said, “There is no way that the local contractors can compete and thus are at disadvantage.”