GBLA session: Gemstone mining banned

Award of lease for mining questioned; excess office space, Eye Vision Hospital discussed.

Shabbir Mir June 09, 2011


The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly on Wednesday imposed an immediate ban on gemstone mining and export of precious stones from the mineral resource-rich mountain region.

The decision was taken following a heated debate in the G-B Legislative Assembly earlier in the day on issuance of licence for mining and export of genstones from the region to other parts of the country.

Taking part in the debate on the issue, members from treasury and opposition benches demanded an immediate ban on the export of gemstones from Gilgit. They claimed that foreigners took away precious stones without fulfilling legal formalities, causing losses to the local people and the national exchequer.

With GBLA Speaker Wazir Baig in the chair, ruling party members Ayub Shah from Ghizer District, Mutabiat Shah from Gojal and Raja Azam from Shiger tabled a resolution seeking a ban on leasing out various mines to foreigners in dubious manner.

They regretted that the government has allowed foreigners to take away precious stones at throwaway prices, causing huge losses to the national exchequer and local people.

The members favoured a ban on leasing out mining sites and accused gemstone traders of bribing local officials before mining the precious stones. They said if the government issues licence for the business there should be some royalty for the local people as well.

In his ruling, the Speaker approved the resolution imposing a ban on mining and said a committee comprising members of G-B Council and GBLA would legislate on the issue and streamline the industry.

Eye Vision Hospital

Health Minister Haji Gulbar told the house that the government would take over the assets of Eye Vision Hospital, which was abandoned by its foreign managers. Earlier, legislators including Jamil Ahmed and Amina Ansari drew the attention of the speaker to the hospital’s affairs, saying that some American doctors running the hospital had recently left without informing the G-B government.

The speaker said that unless the doctors return, the health department should take the assets in its custody.

Independent member Raziuddin said that officials of various departments have set up unnecessary additional offices at various locations, leading to a strain on the meagre resources of G-B. He said that this trend should be checked.

The speaker asked the finance minister to submit a report on the matter.

The house also unanimously approved a resolution to set up separate counters for women in National Database and Regsitration Authority (NADRA) offices.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2011.


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