Srinagar: National Panthers Party President, Harsh Dev Singh has said that the Modi-led Indian government is desperately attempting to usurp the rich lithium resources recently found in Reasi district which otherwise belong to and is property of the territory and its people.
Harsh Dev Singh was reacting to the statement made earlier this month by Indian Secretary Mines Vivek Bhardwaj that New Delhi would auction the lithium resources of IIOJK before December.
The NPP president addressing a press conference along with other party leaders in Jammu questioned the locus of the Indian Secretary in interfering in a matter which falls within the domain of IIOJK administration. He said that under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957, it is the IIOJK administration which has the exclusive powers of extracting and mining of minerals found on its land, and it alone can hold auctions and grant permissions for mining.
The Indian government’s move, as evident from the Mining Secretary’s statement, is therefore not only unprecedented and violative of existing laws but is also an attempt to invade into the arena of the J&K authorities, he said.
Harsh Dev said there are 5.9 million tonne of lithium found alone in Reasi district and there may be far more lithium to discover in IIOJK. “One can simply imagine the socio-economic boost that J&K could secure if it is allowed to exploit its resources in accordance with the present laws,” he said. The NPP leader stressed that the Indian government must stop their intended auction of the IIOJK’s lithium mining rights planned for December and the same should be left to the elected government whenever formed in IIOJK.
He stated that any amendment to the Mining Act to facilitate New Delhi gaining greater grip on IIOJK’s lithium resources was legally and morally incorrect and would amount to a dictatorial theft, adding, “……with the tensions already in J&K, such gross criminal act by the Union [Indian] Government may only serve to add more fuel to the fire in a conflict that never seems to end”.
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