Proper extraction and processing of the precious stones can create new avenues of employment
Jammu and Kashmir government has failed to exploit the Sapphire treasures of the state due to lack of strategic mining and the failure to attract private partners for investment to extract the mineral on a joint venture basis. In absence of modern drilling technology, the Jammu Kashmir Minerals Limited (JKML) continues to operate the mine on small scale and extract the raw mineral on hit and trial method. During the past few years, JKML has shown a steep decline in annual extraction of raw sapphire, known as corundum, leading to low revenue generation on its sale in open auctions in international markets. According to a report, in its first auction in 2008, JKML had collected Rs 1.32 crore against the auctioning of 1.5 kgs of corundum. However, with JKML running in loss for last several years, it is hard for the department to create resources to carry out the sapphire extraction on scientific lines. According to official figures, the corporation has recorded a loss of Rs 77. 42 crore; in 2011-12 the losses went up to Rs 84.78 crore; and in 2012-13 the loss was recorded at Rs 85.57 crore. The JKML has been paying a huge sum on preservation and security of the gems for the past six years and the officials fear that the costs incurred on security and maintenance have exceeded the actual cost of the gems. Mining experts criticize the mode of operation of the concerned department. The process has to be completed between July 1 to September 10. The concerned department undertakes mining but defers collection of the precious stones for unknown reasons. They expose the gems and leave. The precious stones are later collected by the smugglers who dare inclement weather and a difficult terrain. It reflects that there is something fishy in the process. Have the officials a truck with smugglers? This has to be looked into, and the sooner it is done the better. The authorities need to gear up and do the needful. Proper mining, extraction and processing of the precious stones can create new avenues of employment.