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Illegal mining goes unabated at site of the Motorway Mega City project

PESHAWAR: Large-scale illegal mining is continuing at the site of the Motorway Mega City project , the native district of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, causing huge losses to the provincial exchequer on a daily basis.
An official who requested anonymity told Media that illegal mining was going on without any letup over the vast stretch of land alongside the Motorway around Kernal Sher Khan Interchange in Nowshera.
He said it continued despite the efforts of the Provincial Housing Authority (PHA) to make the Mines and Mineral Department and other quarters to ensured that this is stopped.
He said the land has been reserved by PHA under Section-IV of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 since the last six years for the Motorway Mega City Housing Scheme.
He informed that negotiations were at final stage with Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for development of the 80,000 kanals housing scheme under the public-private partnership.
The official said the Mines and Mineral Department, Nowshera had auctioned part of the land despite the fact that PHA had demarcated it and clearly decided in a meeting with Mines and Minerals Department not to auction the land for mining of sand.
The Mines and Minerals Department, he added, in connivance with the contractor first auctioned and then cancelled it to give the contractor grounds for litigation and mining at a large scale under the garb of litigation.
The official claimed the contractor had links in the provincial ruling coalition and was inflicting losses of millions of rupees to the provincial exchequer.
The official said that a representative of Mining Department in Nowshera told the PHA that about 2,000 to 3,000 truckloads were being illegally excavated from the site on a daily basis.
“The contractor is using heavy machinery in broad daylight and is getting one stay order after another every time two to three days before the date fixed for hearing in the court of law.
He said the PHA has approached the Mines and Mineral Department, district police and deputy commissioner Nowshera and was still waiting for any action in this regard.
The case is being pursued by the concerned government departments for the last one year and this has provided the contractor an opportunity to exploit the situation.
An official of Mines and Minerals Nowshera on the condition of anonymity said an influential hand was behind the mass-scale illegal mining and therefore they could not do anything about it.
The official informed that the first meeting in this regard was held between PHA and Mines and Minerals Department in February and subsequently Deputy Commissioner (DC) Nowshera wrote to Mines and Minerals Department on May 27, 2016 and PHA wrote to Mines and Minerals Department and DC Nowshera to stop illegal mining.
The PHA, he said, also wrote to the district police officer (DPO) Nowshera and approached DSP and SHO of concerned police station, but to no avail.
The area has reportedly been converted into big ditches, which will be refilled by spending public expenses once the housing scheme is started.
When contacted for comment, Director General (DG) Mines and Minerals Fazl-e-Wahid told Media that the entire site of mining was not in the area of the Mega City Housing Scheme. He said the contractor got stay order from the high court after the department won the case to get vacated the land.
He added that they deal only with potential mines and have nothing to do with the Section-IV imposition as that is the domain of the Deputy Commissioner who is also member of the auction committee. However, he admitted that they had auctioned the area for mining a year ago.
“We did not know about the enforcement of Section-IV and the department had auctioned an area of 2,300 kanals, some of which is inside the site of the housing scheme,” Fazl-e-Wahid said. He added that meetings with different quarters are being held to exclude the area falling inside the housing scheme site from the contract.



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