J&K: Mehbooba Mufti Demands Accountability on the Allocation of Lithium Reserves
Mehbooba Mufti / Image Courtesy: PTI
Srinagar: People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday raised concerns over the allocation of lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir as she called for accountability on the share the union territory is expected to receive.
The former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state raised concerns after reports claimed that the lithium reserves would be auctioned soon. The PDP leader expressed concerns that the mineral reserves will be "exploited" and offered to the "crony capitalists" associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she argued, that will potentially deprive the people of the region of their fair share in the wealth generated from these resources.
"Lithium is a globally coveted resource, and Jammu and Kashmir's reserves are of great importance not just for our region but for the entire nation. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the exploitation of these resources benefits the people of Jammu and Kashmir and not just a select few," Mufti argued.
In February, the Ministry of Mines said that the Geological Survey of India (GSI), for the first time, established 5.9 million tonnes of the mineral in the Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District in Jammu division. The discovery has been termed decisive for the country's growth in the pursuit of better energy alternatives. The ministry later said that the auction of reserves will start by December this year.
Mufti, however, warned against the alleged "takeover" of the mineral reserves, which she said holds immense global significance in the transition towards cleaner and sustainable energy solutions.
"After the takeover of Jammu and Kashmir's water resources and minerals by the Government of India (GOI), the focus has now shifted towards the vast lithium reserves beneath the region's surface," she said.
"It is imperative to note that while the electricity generated by Jammu and Kashmir has historically been supplied to other regions, sometimes even free of cost, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have often found themselves in darkness due to inadequate power supply. Now, with the exploitation of these lithium reserves on the horizon, there are concerns that the benefits may not adequately reach the local population," she was quoted as saying.
In a party statement, Mufti also emphasized the need for transparency, fair compensation, and the active involvement of local stakeholders in the decision-making process as she demanded accountability from the central government. She said that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir's lithium reserves is of immense significance not only for the region but for the entire nation.
She added that countries and states with the highest lithium reserves, such as Australia, Chile, and China, have set examples of responsible resource management and transparent allocation of benefits to their citizens, insisting that the Government of India must follow suit in ensuring the equitable distribution of the wealth generated from Jammu and Kashmir's lithium reserves.
The leader urged people and stakeholders to join her in advocating for a fair and just distribution of the benefits derived from these valuable resources.
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