Mining contracts to outsiders will rob locals of job opportunities: NC

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National Conference on Tuesday expressed concern over allotment of mining contracts on river Jhelum and its tributaries to non-locals, saying it will rob local youth of job opportunities and affect livelihood of thousands of families.

In a statement, the party MPs Muhammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi while expressing concern over the “discriminatory measures” said last year the rights for extraction of the minerals was exclusively reserved for local contractors.

“Due to the restrictions on the internet, the local contractors couldn’t participate in the on-line bidding process. From contractors to manual sand diggers, laborers to transporters, and scores of other mineral workers who are directly or indirectly associated with the extraction of minerals, all will be in peril because local contractors failed to participate in the bid as internet was not available to them. Whatever little they earn to manage their household chores comes from the sand mining,” the MPs said.

They said educated youth of J&K were already suffering due to shrinking employment opportunities aggravated by measures taken on the August 5 last year.

They said the domicile policy has added to the frustration of youth on account of diminishing job avenues.

“Unavailability of a viable private sector and the ruin caused to local hospitality, handicraft and manufacturing sectors post August 5 and successive COVID19 induced lockdown has increased the trepidation of the unemployed youth of J&K,” the MPs said.

They said all 10 mineral blocks in river Jhelum in Srinagar have gone to outsiders; in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, 26 sand mining contracts of 38 mineral blocks have gone to outsiders, and in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, of seven mineral blocks, four have been awarded to outsiders.

“This is all what New Delhi has for Kashmir; every single step of there is pushing hapless Kashmiri youth towards a chasm,” they said, adding there has been no let up in New Delhi’s “repugnance  for rights of Kashmiri people especially the youth.”

The Mps urged the government to put the new mining and extraction policy in abeyance and allow locals to draw their sustenance from it.

Meanwhile, the Mps urged the J&K government to grant six months extension to all PhD and Integrated PhD scholars whose residency period ends this year.

“They couldn’t do any work during the post August lockdown and subsequent COVID19 induced crises. Kashmir University administration is ambiguous about the fate of scholars. The University should come up with a clear policy on the graduate level exams; PG levels exams and other entrance tests,” said the MPs.