Mine leaseholders protest against revival of Mine and Mineral Blocks policy in Chitral.
By Gul Hamaad Farooqi
CHITRAL: An emergency meeting of mineral mine lease holders was held in Chitral under the chairmanship of Prince Reza-ul-Mulk. Concern was expressed by stakeholders in the meeting that the poor businessmen of Chitral could hardly climb the mountains without any government help to explore the mines of various minerals, but when they applied for its lease after so much hard work, the Department of Minerals and the concerned agencies reject their applications and want to issue the lease of these mines to the people of their choice. The landlords also staged a peaceful protest and chanted slogans block policy.
Talking to our correspondent, Prince Mudassir-ul-Mulk said the provincial government had closed 80% of Chitral’s mineral rich area by dividing it into 15 different competitive reserve blocks. The purpose was to provide these plots to foreign investors through auction on a large scale. During 13 years, the provincial government and the Department of Minerals have offered to lease to local and foreign investors on a collage scale at various forums, but no one showed interest. Finally, on July 2021, at the request of the people, the provincial government removed these blocks and provided the facility to apply online. This decision was highly hailed by the people. Exploration licenses were offered to local and foreign investors on small and large scale. As a result, about 500 investors applied for small scale prospecting licenses and many foreign and local companies applied for large scale exploration licenses.
On the one hand, the Department of Minerals is conducting a survey with the Geological Survey of Pakistan at a cost of Rs. 324 million for mapping of mineral resources and identification of mineral resources. On the other hand, by deceiving the people to open the block areas of Chitrali, the locals have already identified the places of precious stones, and minerals. After the completion of the identification of these deposits without any government expenditure, plans are being made to cancel these applications of the local people and want to issue leases to the people of their choice. With this decision of the TI government, the mineral sector will decline in both the districts of Chitral.
Meraj Hussain and others revealed that these mineral deposits were blocked from 2013 to 2021 and according to the law if a deposit remained closed for eight years, they could not be blocked for more than 8 years. People I related to mineral and mines warned that if the government did not fulfill our demands, they would be forced to came on the streets and the administration and the government would be responsible for creating any law and order situation.