Gul Hamaad Farooqi
CHITRAL: At meeting with Shahzada Razaul Mulk in the chair here, mineral mine leaseholders said small scale businessmen of Chitral without any government help or geologists could hardly discover mine deposits but when they apply for its lease the department of mines and minerals and the concerned agencies reject their applications and issue the lease to outsiders.
The leaseholders also staged a peaceful protest and chanted slogans in support of their demands.
Talking to ChitralToday, Shahzada Mudassirul Mulk said that from 2008 to 2021 the KP provincial government had closed 80pc of Chitral’s mineral rich area by dividing it into 15 competitive reserve blocks. The purpose was to provide these places to large foreign investors through auctions. In these 13 years, the government and the department of minerals offered lease to local and foreign investors on a large scale at various forums but no investor took interest.
Finally, on July 1, 2021, on the request of the people the PTI government removed these blocks and provided the facility to the parties to apply online. This decision was well appreciated by the people. Exploration licenses were offered to local and foreign investors on a small scale and on a large scale too. As a result, about 500 investors applied for small scale prospecting licenses and many foreign and local companies applied for large scale exploration licenses.
The government under section 10 has applied for allotment of leases on large scale to local companies under government and private partnership. Approximately 30 leases were also approved.
After all this, the provincial government is now taking steps to block these mountains again. He said the lease applications coming under the purview of the former block were rejected by the local investors. A summary has recently been prepared by the minerals adviser for the rehabilitation of these blocks which will be sent to the chief minister for approval.
On the one hand, the mineral department is conducting a survey with the Geological Survey of Pakistan at a cost of Rs324 million for mapping mineral resources and identification of mineral resources and on the other places of precious stones, gems stones, dimension stones and metallic stones identified by locals without any government expenditure were to be leased to people of their choice.
But the zealous people of Chitral will not allow this dream to come true. Despite the annual revenue of millions of rupees being collected from Chitral by the provincial government, the restoration of these blocks is a question mark. With this decision of the PTI government, which has a slogan of development of Mines and Minerals, the mineral sector will decline in both the districts of Chitral.