ATTOCK: The local administration on Friday sealed as many as 13 stone crushers for illegally quarrying limestone in Babarki area of Hassanabdal causing a serious threat to the environment, sensitive installations and minerals and causing loss of millions of rupees to national treasury through an expired lease.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ishratullah Khan Niazi along with the assistant commissioner (AC), assistant director mines and minerals and officials of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited the site of the stone crushers’ plant area comprising 46.03 acres and ordered immediate suspension of illegal quarrying in the area.
The AC said that a First Information Report (FIR) has also been lodged under section 337 PPC against the owners of stone crusher plants for violation of a ban imposed by the administration.
“We have sealed 13 stone crushers’ plants working in the vicinity of Babarki area of Hassanabdal besides blocking access to these plants by establishing obstacles so that no production could go out of the premises.
The IESCO authorities are being directed to suspend the power supply to these plants without any further delay,” said Assistant Commissioner Adnan Anjum Raja while talking to the media on Friday.
He said that the local administration in collaboration with civil defense, mines and mineral department would also carry out an audit of the explosive licenses of these stone crusher plants as most of them are quarrying on expired licenses.
Raja has said that Punjab Mines and Minerals department has auctioned the lime stone block comprising 46.03 acres during the year 2006.
He said that the 10 year lease of quarrying was expired during the year 2016 but lease holders went to court for a stay for the lease which was decided in year 2017 and Attock assistant director mines and minerals has stopped the stone crushers for quarrying of lime stone but they keep continuing their activities although issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) is still pending with EPA Punjab.
Responding another question, Raja said that the DC has constituted a four member committee to assess the gravity of the loss caused to the government on account of illegal excavations of lime stone in the area.
Raja said that the local administration also took stock of people with fake identities who are carrying out mining activities as well as utilizing explosives in the vicinity of Cadet College Hassanabdal.
“The principal of the college has also expressed his reservation over the activities and raised the issue before the governor,” he added.
To another question, Raja said that keeping in view the sensitivity of the area of nearest to Cadet College and threat to the environment, the Punjab Mines and Minerals department has already stopped the auction of limestone leases in the area.
The local administration would adopt zero tolerance policy towards this issue and no stone crusher plant would be allowed to operate in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2019.