Neglected Mineral Wealth of Kashmir

By Asiya Qadir

At about 80 kilometers north of summer capital Srinagar, Water Khani Dragmullah is a picturesque village of Kupwara district. It is bestowed with immense beauty and attention grabbing rock formations. The area is dotted with apple orchards and the lush green coppices. The mountains are shrouded by the wasps of slithering clouds. The chronic skylines arrest the attention of the versifiers and force them to pen down their majesty. As the sun starts to set on the horizon, the dark silhouettes of the tin-roofed houses stand out boldly against the fading light.
There is a Marble mine (metamorphosed lime stones)at Waterkhani village, at a distance of one kilometer from the village Dragmullah A-1.The mine enfolds the outsized land area and consists of marbles (metamorphic rocks) and lime stones (sedimentary rocks) that get metamorphosed to form the sundry Marbles. There is a rock bed about which a local resident claimed- “ Yem kani manz tche sath rangchi marble neraan”(this rock bed could provide the marbles of seven different colors). The particular bed comprises of different colored marbles embellished by zebra motif, tiger motif, elephant motif, specks, rows, columns and so on.
There are three out dated machines in the factory-one for cutting the marbles, other for shaping them and another for polishing them. “The machines installed here were second hand and obsolete, the besmirched supervision has always neglected us and our mineral wealth”, according to a local.
In 1986, the work in the mine and plant was halted owing to the instability in circumstances of the valley. Then , the factory remained open for few years. When the valley witnessed the tehreek in nineties the work was again halted. Till 2008 the factory remained defunct, the outmoded machines were eaten up by rust and filth.
In 2008, during the government of PDP, the Shrine board affair became the cause of the sturdy agitation in the valley that adversely impacted the functioning of the mine and the plant. The work resumed only for three months, but till now the factory is defunct. Will it start functioning again? The question lingers.
The mining and the smooth functioning of the factory could provide livelihood to hundreds of families. The whole village could become sound in pecuniary matters. It can revamp the moribund economy of the village but the negligence of the administration has fully muddled the decent ambience of the area. T here is an army picket at the apex of the huge marble mine; the stay of the army has tainted the summit of the mine. “Ager yeti kaem gaches huru, keta gar bachan (the existence of so many families can revamp, if the mining will restart here)” wished a local dweller with weary eyes.
The administration should pay heed towards such revenue generating sources that are present immensely in our valley.

—The author is a first semester student of Applied Geology at Kashmir University. She can be reached at: