Sindh Govt allows granite, other mineral mining in Karoonjhar

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KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to allow granite and other mineral mining in Karoonjhar mountain range, however it would listen and mitigate the concerns of the locals before leasing out mining.

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From left to right: Veerji Kolhi (Special Assistant to CM), Sardar Shah (MPA/Sindh Cultural Minister), Shabbir Ali Bijarani (Mines & Minerals Minister), Qasim Siraj Soomro (MPA)

In pursuance of cabinet decision, a meeting was chaired by Sindh minister for mines department Shabir Bijarani, which was attended by Sindh Minister for Tourism and Culture Sardar Ali Shah, MPA from Nagarparkar Qasim Siraj Soomro and Special Assistant to CM Veerji Kolhi.

When contacted Veerji Kolhi said he took the position that the people have emotional, social and cultural attachment with Karoonjhar Mountain so it should be protected. Only areas with underground granite deposits can be leased.

He said, care must be taken that the leaseholders of China Clay do not dig a 20-foot-deep pit, which has resulted in the deaths of many people and animals.

The meeting also decided that the religious sites and historical sites in Karoonjhar would be protected.

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Sindh cabinet in its April 13 2021, meeting approved Sindh Mining Concession Rules under which mining licenses would not be given in the areas of animal sanctuaries.

The cabinet approved the rules on report of the 7-committee. Director General Culture, Chief conservator forest, DG mines, DG EPA, DC Tharparkar were the members of the committee.

There are mining permits of several minerals including Granite, China Clay, Fuller earth, and iron ore covering an area of 31480 acres, out of which 8128 acres fall in the restricted area.

Companies who has valid permits which fall in the prohibited areas (to be notified) may be shifted to alternate within permissible area.

New rules are:

  1. All cultural, historical, religious and potential tourism sites have to be excluded and their sustainability has to be safeguarded.
  2. Forest land has to be excluded from the area in which granite (and any other minerals) mining is/ will be allowed.
  3. Mining of all available minerals may be allowed by the government in the remaining areas of the Karoonjhar after exclusion of protected areas.
  4. Entire Karoonjhar Range and its surrounding areas fall under the protected wildlife sanctuary. To allow mining. These potential area needs to be excluded from the notified area. This would require: 150,000 acres of wildlife sanctuary to be re-surveyed and mining activities to be allowed in the areas where wildlife does not exist.

Direction to Environment Protection department to carry out EIA and suggest the mitigation measure to safeguard the environment and its flora fauna and habitat in the proposed mining areas.

Regarding issuance of license and permits new rules says:

Thee license/permit for Granite mining in Karoonjhar area may be made conditional with setting up of industry within limits of Tharparkar district in order to ensure value addition, employment generation,  and positive social benefits of this activity.

Corporate Social Responsibility CSR would be an integral part of such permission.

Failure to put up and industry within one year (with a permissible grace period of another six months) may result in automatic cancellation license and permission and forfeiture of all the fees etc

At least one third of mining licenses may be reserved for the local residents of Tharparkar district to ensure their inclusion / participation in the mining activity

These permissions may not be transferred without prior permission of the government.

Security

For security the recommendations approved by the cabinet: The federal government may be requested to provide a blanket security permission to start mining and industrial activity in the area.

Granite City in Tharparkar

Granite City in Tharparkar The government of Sindh may establish a Granite City in Tharparkar district to facilitate establishment of local industry, and provide infrastructure therein incentive and concessions as well.

Comparison

The cabinet was told that Rajasthan across the border is main source of granite in India. Out of total production of granite 80 to 85 % Granite exported all over the world, which earned 7.38 billion exports in 2019. The activity employs 15000 people and has 1500 registered block cutter.