Report by the District Mineral Officer, Baramulla on gypsum mining affecting the health of villagers, 11/09/2023

Factual note filed by the District Mineral Officer, Baramulla in response to News article published in Village Square website dated 20.08.2023 titled, “Gypsum Jam: Rampant mining troubles Kashmir villagers” (O.A. NO. 538/2023).

After the establishment of the reserves of mineral gypsum to the tune of about 100 million tonnes in the entire area from village Ijra to village Chiriyan, fifteen numbers of mining leases were granted by the Jammu & Kashmir government to the project proponents after fulfilling all the requisite formalities that were in vogue at that time. The formalities included NoC’s from various stake holding departments including Wildlife and Forest, besides submission of mining plans which were approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines.

Since 2016, the gypsum mining leases are monitored and regulated under “The Jammu & Kashmir Minor Mineral Concession, Storage, Transportation of minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016.

The Environmental Clearances have been granted to the lease holders with a set of conditions giving due considerations to the environmental impacts of gypsum mining. The lease holders of each and every mine are being periodically monitored by competent authorities in order to make them comply with the conditions laid in the mining plan, environmental clearances and consent to operate.

The report disputes the allegation of water getting contaminated with gypsum and also leading to tuberculosis disease. "The air pollution/particulate matter in the gypsum mining area of district Baramulla is being continuously kept in control by each mining lease holder using water sprinklers for dust suppression in and around the mines," the report said. Further, mineral gypsum is partially water-soluble and does not get dissolved easily in water and there are least chances of washout of minerals during the rainy season, besides, water is not used during the mining process of the mineral.