Funds are not released to make the MSS web portal operational
The finance department sleeping on the files relating to checkpoints, VTS
JAMMU, 13th June: The much-talked-about surveillance system to control illegal mining and transportation of minerals across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has remained confined to official documents only due to the failure of the Ministry of Finance and Infrastructure Development of Jammu and Kashmir. Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) to clear records and release sufficient funds.
The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, while chairing the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries on December 1, 2021, had requested the Department of Geology and Mines to provide better monitoring of minor minerals through technological interventions to verify illegal mining and transport within a limited time.
However, so far the decision has remained limited to official documents only as either the Ministry of Finance has not approved the files or the Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation is not disbursing funds under the Languing Projects Scheme, even after completion of all procedural formalities. , official sources told EXCELSIOR.
In the year 2016, the Ministry of Mines through the Indian Bureau of Mines launched the Mine Monitoring System (MSS), which is a satellite monitoring system with the aim of establishing a responsive mineral administration regime by limiting instances of illegal mining activity through remote sensing detection technology.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Mines requested all States/UTs to own and implement the Mining Surveillance System (MSS) in case of minor minerals. Accordingly, at the request of J&K Government Geology and Mining Department, the IT Section of J&K Small Scale Industries Development Corporation Limited (SICOP) has prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the development and maintenance of the portal. Comprehensive Mine Monitoring System (MSS) web.
The work has been resumed under the languishing projects program with an approved cost of Rs 2.89 crore. Although work on the pilot project has been completed, no funds have been released by JKIDFC to make the system operational, even after repeated requests from the Department of Geology and Mines and SICOP, sources said.
The delay in commissioning the system is notwithstanding that the monitoring system checks an area of 500 meters around the existing mining boundary for any unusual activity that may be illegal mining and any anomalies, if found. found, is reported as a trigger. . The system once established will be very effective in monitoring and regulating UT’s mineral resources, sources said.
During the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries held on December 1, 2021, the Chief Secretary had also emphasized the establishment of checkpoints for high-tech minerals as soon as possible, but the work is again delayed in due to the non-release of necessary funds to J&K State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO), the executing agency, by JKIDFC, informed sources.
Under the Languing Projects Scheme, 61 high-tech mineral checkpoints at key exit points and strategic locations are to be established in various districts of Kashmir province and 50 in Jammu province. “Some CCTV checkpoints have already been developed and handed over to the Department of Geology and Mines, but the fate of the remaining ones is up in the air due to lack of funds,” sources said.
Similarly, it was decided quite a long time ago that the Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) for the transport of minerals would be introduced to control the illegal transport. However, the system still only exists on paper.
The Department of Geology and Mining has invited Expression of Interest (EoI) for the incorporation of suppliers for the installation of vehicle tracking devices with load sensors on vehicles engaged in the transport of minor minerals and after l Completion of the necessary exercise, the file was submitted to the Department of Finance for approval. However, no decision has been taken by the finance department on the incorporation of the vendors, sources said, adding that “the non-serious approach by the finance department is despite the fact that once put in place implementation, the project would be of immense help in tracking the vehicles en route, the amount of minerals being transported and as such will go a long way in controlling the illegal extraction/transportation of minerals and loss to the national treasury”.
Contacted, an officer of the Department of Geology and Mines, who is aware of the development of all these aspects, confirmed that the decisions taken during the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries have not yet been translated into reality.
While wishing to remain anonymous, the officer said, “We are awaiting approval from the Ministry of Finance and the release of funds by JKIDFC.”