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June 2, 2020

Tribal elders seek help to stop ‘illegal’ excavation at coalmines

National

June 2, 2020

PESHAWAR: Inaction of the authorities concerned to resolve a dispute among tribesmen in Darra Adamkhel over excavation at coalmines has caused unrest among the tribespeople.

Elders of the Sunnikhel tribe have already held several meetings with the district administration and police high-ups, urging them to take immediate preventive measures, but to no avail.

The district administration has also referred the case to the police officials, stressing them to help stop the coal excavation till resolution of the dispute, but police is yet to come into action.

The elders of Sunnikhel tribe are concerned about the situation. A group of the elders of the tribe told The News that the tribe owned six mines in the coal-rich hills of Darra Adamkhel area in Kohat district.Three of the mines were operational, while the remaining three were dormant, they said.

The tribal elders including Haji Ghulam Hassan Afridi, Imran Afridi, Younas Afridi and Ajab Khan Afridi informed that the active excavation from the mines had been going on for the last 10 years. Owing to the concerns among the people of Sunnikhel tribe over the earning from the mines, a joint committee was constituted in April 2018 for a period of two years, with the mandate to look after the mines and ensure fair distribution of the revenue among the people of the tribe.

The committee then formed a “Supreme Council” to make their job easy. However, after the formation of the committee and the so-called Supreme Council, the matter deteriorated further instead of showing any improvement, the elders claimed.

The committee had inherited resources worth Rs40 million along with some costly equipment. However, both the resources and equipment disappeared later, the elders alleged.Also, the committee and the council could manage to give only Rs2000 per family of the tribe during their two years custody of the mines. According to the constitution of the committee, monthly audit of the performance was obligatory, but no audit could be made even for a single month, they further alleged.

They alleged the committee and the council members embezzled the resources and revenue of the mines and nobody could dare to ask them. However, their two-year tenure expired in April this year and the people of the tribe were happy that they would get rid of them and a new committee would be elected with consensus to improve the situation, they said. But instead of vacating their offices, the committee illegally formed an interim set-up to run the mines.

Members from within the committee were made office-bearers of the interim set-up and the process of embezzling the resources of the tribe continued, they said. They further said that only during the month of Ramazan coal worth Rs20 million has been excavated and supplied from the three mines. “Every day at least two trucks of coal are loaded at the mines and supplied to different parts of the country,” Ghulam Hassan remarked. He said that they called on the deputy commissioner, local tehsildar, district police officer and other officials and informed them of the situation.

The district administration assured them that the excavation would be stopped until amicable resolution of the dispute but no action could be taken, Ghulam Hassan said. He demanded Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Chief Secretary Kazim Niaz and Inspector General Police Sanaullah Abbasi to take urgent notice of the situation and help resolve the dispute. The tribal elders also urged the high-ups to help stop excavation at the coal mines till resolution of the dispute.