‘Local people have first right on mining leases’

CHITRAL, March 9: Funded by European Commission, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has launched a project to develop a sustainable value chain in the gems and jewellery sector by improving mining practices and upgrading technology and improving design and product development. The ‘gems and jewellery development project’ has started consultation with the stakeholders to design an incentive package for mining of gemstones in Chitral for which a consultative workshop was held here in which recommendations were formulated to be forwarded to the provincial government. The recommendations included giving priority to the local applicants in awarding of lease of sites for exploration of gemstones and completely devolve the leasing authority to the district level from the province to ensure effective control and acceleration of process. Keeping in view the fabulous treasures of gemstones in Chitral, the provincial government should take on board the stake holders in Chitral while formulating mines and mineral policy in future. “The environment impact study should be carried out before exploration process in an area to save the flora and fauna and due steps should be taken to avoid or minimize the damages caused by it, if any”, the participants recommended. It was also recommended that the volume of exploration fee should be rationalized to the six-month working season in the district which is presently charged on monthly basis. Imparting training on modern lines to the persons related with the mining and quarrying, processing and marketing was also recommended on this occasion while holding of a grand exhibition of gems and jewels in Chitral on national level was also called for.– Zahiruddin]]>