BJP exploiting J&K's natural resources to benefit crony capitalists: Mehbooba Mufti

As concerns rise over the auction of J&K's lithium reserves, Mehbooba Mufti advocates for equitable wealth distribution and transparent allocation

Mehbooba Mufti criticizes BJP's approach to J&K's lithium reserves, highlighting the need for local benefit and accountability. (Photo: National Herald archives)
Mehbooba Mufti criticizes BJP's approach to J&K's lithium reserves, highlighting the need for local benefit and accountability. (Photo: National Herald archives)


PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has accused the BJP of exploiting the natural resources of Jammu and Kashmir to benefit "crony capitalists".

She was reacting to media reports that the lithium reserves found in the Jammu region will be auctioned soon.

"After taking over J&K's water resources and minerals, GoI has set its eyes on Jammu's lithium reserves. While the electricity generated by the state is supplied to others (even for free), we ourselves suffer in darkness. Now these lithium reserves will be exploited and gifted to BJP's crony capitalists. We must seek accountability on the share J&K will receive," Mufti wrote on X on Tuesday.

In a statement issued later in the day, the former chief minister said 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 that lie beneath the region's surface.

"Lithium, a critical component in modern batteries, holds immense global significance in the transition towards cleaner and sustainable energy solutions. As the world increasingly embraces electric vehicles, renewable energy storage and portable electronic devices, the demand for lithium has soared. Jammu and Kashmir is home to substantial lithium deposits that are pivotal in meeting this growing global demand," she said.

Mufti 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 said.

Mufti has expressed apprehension that the lithium reserves in Jammu will be exploited and offered to the ''crony capitalists'' associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), potentially depriving the people of Jammu and Kashmir 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," she said.

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, Mufti said while insisting that the Centre must follow suit in ensuring an equitable distribution of the wealth generated from Jammu and Kashmir's lithium reserves.

She emphasised the need for transparency, fair compensation and active involvement of local stakeholders in the decision-making process. 

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Published: 27 Sep 2023, 11:25 AM