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Illegal mining continues despite arrests, insists KPEC

Illegal mining continues despite arrests, insists KPEC

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission has claimed illegal mining has been taking place at four sites in the province despite the arrest of former minister Ziaullah Afridi and other officials few months ago on the charge of facilitating the same activity.

On Oct 1, additional director (investigation) of the commission Colonel (r) Saifullah Jarrar sent a letter to the secretary of mines and mineral development department issuing guidelines on how to end illegal mining.

The officer also asked the provincial police chief and commissioners of Peshawar and Hazara divisions to fully cooperate with the mines department for corrective measures.

Interestingly, the official didn’t mention under what authority he had issued directives to the department, the police chief and commissioners.

Even the issuance of such letter by the KPEC additional director instead of director general has surprised many, who insist he (additional director) is not authorised to do so.

In the letter, the KPEC officer claimed illegal mining of latrite was going on in Mamakhel area of Nowshera, chromite’s in Tangi area of Charsadda, phosphate’s in Tarnawai area of Abbottabad and in Swabi.

Interestingly, the commission had taken into custody then mines and mineral development minister Ziaullah Afridi on July 9 after arresting director general of the Directorate of Mines and Minerals Dr Liaquat Ali and another officer on the charge of allowing illegal mining in three of four areas pointed put in the letter.

Ziaullah, who belonged to the ruling PTI, was arrested for misusing powers and allowing unauthorised mining in different areas.

He was later from the PTI after he leveled corruption allegations against Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, also from his party, in the provincial assembly.

In the letter, the KPEC officer directed the police and commissioners to place barricades at the access and exit points of mines, deploy guards, impose Section 144 and blacklist illegal miners.

He also asked the department to set up a vigilance committee for surprise visits to the mining sites in question.

Besides, the officer also issued directions for giving advertisements in newspapers for the purchase of minerals without verified challans or valid lease to be declared illegal and copies of challans to be kept by the purchaser.

An official at Nizampur Illegal mining continues despite arrests, insists KPEC police station, which has Mamakhel mines in its jurisdiction, denied any mining activities in the area.

He said mining activities had ceased in Mamakhel in last April in line with the provincial government’s directives.

The department concerned had lodged more than 700 complaints and sent dispatches to the police department and other relevant quarters against illegal mining in different areas of the province.

Initially, Ziaullah was arrested on the charge of facilitating illegal mining in Nowshera but later, he was booked in two other cases regarding extension of a lease for mining in Charssada and facilitating illegal mining in Abbottabad.

He had denied the charges insisting some people close to the chief minister were involved in illegal mining in Mamakhel area and that when he asked the police to act against them, he was victimised.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2015

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