In a massive discovery for the state of Uttar Pradesh, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has discovered humongous gold deposits in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.
The gold deposits have actually been found at two different places- 2,700-tonne deposits in Sonpahadi and 650-tonne deposits in Hardi.
KK Rai, District Mining Officer, said that the state mining department has constituted a seven-member team that would visit the district in order to map the goldmine area and to conduct geo-tagging.
What also makes the discovery that much more of a welcome news is the fact that it is easy to dig the mines as they are mostly situated on a hillock.
The Yogi government is looking to lease the mining operations and an auction will be conducted as soon as compensation payout and necessary clearance are granted.
Not just gold, the district is expected to yield many other rich minerals as well. The possibility of finding rare materials like Uranium in the area are being explored.
Bundelkhand and Vindhyan districts of Uttar Pradesh are said to be rich in deposits of metals minerals like gold, diamond, platinum, limestone, granite, phosphate, quartz, and China clay.
The discovery of this huge gold mine has the potential of turning the fortunes of Uttar Pradesh on its head. This is going to augment the state’s revenues handsomely apart from providing jobs to both skilled and unskilled youths.
Moreover, this is going to be a huge impetus for Uttar Pradesh as far as its ambitions of becoming a $ 1 trillion dollar economy is concerned. Currently, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Uttar Pradesh is Rs. 15.42 Lakh crore.
The state needs a GSDP of Rs. 70 Lakh crore to achieve the $ 1 trillion dollar economy mark. Now, with the latest discovery worth around Rs. 12.7 crores, the GSDP of Uttar Pradesh will shoot up automatically. Apart from the gross value of the deposits, the allied economic activity in the form of mining, etc. will add up greatly to the state’s overall growth trajectory.
At the larger level, this augurs really well for India’s overall gold deposits. According to the World Gold Council’s (WGC), which tracks gold trade globally at wholesale levels, India’s current gold holdings stand at 626-tonne.
The 3,350-tonne of gold deposits found in Sonbhadra are therefore 5 times the overall holdings of India. This is going to take up India by several notches when it comes to countries with gold reserves.
The US has the highest holdings of the yellow metal with 8,133.5-tonne. Germany comes second with 3,366 tonne and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has 2,814 tonne gold reserves.
With the recent discovery, India’s gold deposits will almost hit the 4,000 tonne mark, overtaking both the IMF and Germany as India seems all set to become the country with second-highest gold deposits, next only to the United States.
The state of Uttar Pradesh and even the Centre now need to consider how to safeguard the rich gold deposits, especially in the context of Naxal-hit past of Sonbhadra district.
It is relevant to mention here that Sonbhadra is the only district in Uttar Pradesh that shares borders with Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh- which are some of the worst affected, Naxal hit states.
Regarded as the “Energy Capital of India”, it is not really a matter of surprise that the Sonbhadra district has been hit by Naxalism. The rich mineral deposits in the region and contiguity with Naxal hit states have contributed to the rise of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the district.
Sonbhadra, which is seen as Uttar Pradesh’s most backward and Naxal-infested district is usually in news for all the wrong reasons, especially when it comes to the issue of Maoist attacks.
Only in the month of February last year, a huge cache of arms was recovered from the house of a Naxal rebel in Sonbhadra.
The Balrampur District of Chhattisgarh that immediately border Sonbhadra routinely witnesses Naxal violence. Even during voting at General Elections last year, the Maoists had carried out an IED blast.
Similarly, Jharkhand’s Garhwa district that borders Sonbhadra has had a miserable past of Naxal violence. In 2013, it was among the 26 districts in the country that were identified as highly Naxal-affected.
Sonbhadra itself remains on the edge when it comes to Naxalism. Only recently, police carried out combing operations in the Bihar area of the district.
Given its past of Naxal violence and the presence of Maoists in the adjoining districts of Sonbhadra is a big factor in the context of the rich gold deposits that have been discovered.
Both Uttar Pradesh Police and the Central security forces will have to look at the situation closely. There is no reason why Naxalites won’t try to play spoilsport and for this reason, the state must remain prepared against the imminent threat.