Kashmir’s precious gypsum 

The state has huge reserves of snow white gypsum at Boniyar, Naloosa, Bijhama, Dhani Sayidan in Baramullah district and Assar, Khoda Pani, Ganga, Kanga, Kannoli, Jattar and Parlanka in Doda district. According to one estimate Kashmir has around 114 million tonnes of white gypsum. A Kashmiri expert who happens to be a member of Indian Standards Institute has conducted series of tests on gypsum found in the state. According to his observation, Kashmir gypsum is 94.20 percent rich and contains traces of chlorine. This variety, according to him, is best suited for the manufacture of fertilizers. If the potential is effectively tapped a huge fertilizer plant at Bararmulla could relieve the Valley farmers of their woes and earn the state the much-needed revenue. The Kashmir gypsum is also best suited for pottery. But Chinese alone know the art. However, it can be used as an auto salinity agent, in the manufacture of cement as a retarder, gypsum board, laths, building plaster etc. The lath/plaster board and wall board consists of thin sheets of paper, felt or thin wood separated by compressed plaster and can be used partitioning walls, roofing, fire-proofing and sound-proofing. Gypsum is also used in the manufacture of fillers, paints, crayons and insecticides. The government has tried its best to boost the gypsum industry but it could not take off as the lease of land and money (around 60 lakhs) sanctioned was not put to proper use. An enquiry was also announced in the scandal but upto now it has not commenced for reasons best known to the concerned. However, notwithstanding the hurdles created by vested interests and the scandals that killed the industry before its birth, the Jammu entrepreneurs are trying hard to put the reserves to proper use. Plaster of Paris popularly known as POP manufactured in Jammu is widely sold in the Valley. Experts believe a number of plants can come up at various places in Baramulla and Doda districts where gypsum is available in abundance. The best thing about gypsum is that no huge machines are needed to make it a saleable commodity. It can be ground manually and sold as such to the agriculture industry. If dried at a temperature of 300 F, the stone, according to the expert, yields a fine powder that can be used in manufacture of medical grade plaster.  The strength of the Kashmir gypsum has already been accepted by the ISI and bears No: IS 8273/74-1984. On the viability of the project, experts say if the reserves are exploited fully and effectively, it could contribute a major chunk to state’s total budget.