Friday September 17, 2021

300 stone crushers to be set up near Khanpur Dam

August 02, 2021
300 stone crushers to be set up near Khanpur Dam

ISLAMABAD: The KP Mines Department has awarded rights for establishment of stone crushers near Khanpur Dam covering an area of 3,750 acres with the potential of 300 crusher plants that could generate up to Rs8 billion per annum.

An environment expert in the public sector, requesting anonymity, told The News that besides destroying vegetation and converting pristine mountains into craters and ruins, it spoils natural habitat of birds and wild life. He said the area is full of vegetation with natural water streams. The government, however, claims to the contrary.

Environmental experts are surprised as to how the scheme was approved and became part of Annual Development Project without any environmental assessment by the authorities.

KP CM’s Special Assistant on Mining Arif Ahmadzai informed The News the area with reserves of around eight billion tons of limestone could initially generate Rs200 to 500 million per annum which could rise to Rs8 billion per annum,

Sources said that after the Supreme Court ordered removal of stone crushers from Margala mountains — a major source of limestone for stone crushers and imposed a complete ban on the mining — the owners of displaced stone crushers were desperate to get mining rights in the vicinity. The then chief justice while ordering the removal of stone crushers from Margala in 2016 said, "We don’t want to make people jobless but we have to protect the environment”. Margala had 60 stone crushers while Khanpur — behind Margala mountains — is going to have 300, the source explained.

The region which is full of green vegetation, crystal clear springs and streams is a blink away from getting eroded risking the overall environment. The source also alleged saying, “KPK mines department while keeping the senior political leadership of PTI and KP in dark has awarded rights for establishment of stone crushers in the pristine and scenic mountains surrounding the Khanpur dam”.

CM’s special assistant told The News the chief minister knows about the Khanpur site being considered for mining. The scheme was approved by the cabinet as well as the assembly as Annual Development Plan in the financial budget for the year 2021-2022, he added.

He said the area had valuable rocks, but no vegetation, adding no environmental assessment has been done in this regard. He, however, maintained that the KP government would not start the mining blindly without considering its overall impact.

Apart from its financial potential, the document shared by Mr Arif explaining the plan of the mining project, stated that it would create jobs for over 10,000 people. According to the document, about 35 to 40 crush plants are being operated in Pather Garh which are generating about Rs250 to 270 million annually for government exchequer. But the quality of the said crush is far below than the proposed crushing zone of Khanpur. The document further states that the limestone reserves in the surface level has depleted in the Sarghoda crushing zone and now work is being done beneath the surface level which would hardly to last for two to three years. KP CM’s Special Assistant Kamran Bangash told The News through PTI Digital Media Head Peshawar Region Ikram Khatana that the authorities were looking into the matter, adding there would be no illegal mining. Explaining further he wrote to The News that the mines department has recently performed really well in terms of revenue generation and curbing illegal mining in large scales.

Environmental pundit stated the area surrounding Khanpur has huge tourism and recreation potential, and demanded the prime minister look into this matter.