Combating illegal mining
Post by RK News on Thursday, August 31, 2023
Newspaper reports are a testimony to the fact that the problem of illegal mining has wreaked havoc with the environment in many parts of the J&K UT. Although, government is continuing its efforts to curb this dangerous trend and is acting tough against unauthorized excavation but still more needs to be done to stop illegal miners from plundering our natural resources. Over the years, Illegal mining has become a burgeoning problem that threatens to undermine the socio-economic and ecological fabric of the Kashmir valley. Many experts are of the opinion that illegal mining results in massive revenue loss to the public exchequer. Given the valley’s abundant mineral resources including riverbed minerals, coal, limestone, and gypsum, it has become a prime target for illegal miners who exploit these resources without regard for the environmental consequences. This insidious practice not only depletes natural resources at an unsustainable rate but also leads to environmental degradation, disrupting the local ecology and posing serious health risks to nearby population. The illegal mining operations often take place in ecologically sensitive areas, accelerating soil erosion, disturbing wildlife habitats, and polluting water sources. Moreover, these unlawful activities often evade taxes, depriving local and central governments of significant revenue. The first step towards combating this issue is to strengthen the regulatory framework. Current legislation, including the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, needs to be rigorously enforced, with robust mechanisms for monitoring and compliance. Penalties for violators should be stringent enough to act as a deterrent. However, enforcement alone will not suffice. The government should consider revamping the existing laws to reflect the changing realities of the mining sector and the unique challenges posed by illegal operations. Enhancing transparency in the mining sector is another crucial measure. Digital technologies can play a significant role in this regard. Implementing a digital tracking system for mining activities and extracted minerals can ensure better oversight. Publicly accessible data on mining permits and operations can also discourage illegal mining by increasing scrutiny from civil society and local communities. Community engagement is another critical area. Local communities often serve as the first line of defense against illegal mining. Their participation in monitoring and reporting suspected illegal activities can be a game-changer. Therefore, initiatives should be taken to raise awareness among local communities about the hazards of illegal mining and the importance of preserving natural resources. Economic incentives could also be employed to discourage illegal mining. For example, establishing a fair and transparent marketplace for minerals could provide legal miners with a competitive edge, discouraging participation in the illegal market. In addition, livelihood alternatives should be explored for those who might be driven to illegal mining due to lack of other income sources. Illegal mining is a global problem, and using best practices, intelligence, and technology could significantly enhance the effectiveness of local efforts to curb illegal mining in the UT.