Residents demand end to stone crushing plants

Sources confirm mining dept approved setting up of 300 plants near Khanpur Dam


Our Correspondent August 10, 2021
Illegal quarrying and stone crushing has a negative effect on the environment. PHOTO: EXPRESS

HARIPUR:

Assistant Commissioner Haripur, along with Deputy Director Minerals and Industrial Development Officer Haripur, sealed over 10 crushing plants because of non-availability of legal documents with their operators and issued notices to several other plants in Khanpur.

According to the district administration, the Supreme Court issued orders to close crushing plants on hills in Margalla and other Khanpur areas next to Khanpur Dam. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to set up 300 more crushing plants. General Secretary PML-N Murtaza Javed Abbasi has spoken against the KP government’s plan and now the matter has been handed over to the NA Standing Committee.

The provincial cabinet has also given its formal approval and crush plants will be set up on 3,750 acres in Khanpur. This will generate annual revenue of around Rs8 billion.

The residents of Khanpur are unhappy with the KP government’s plan because blasting at the crush plant has damaged nearby areas and caused numerous accidents.

Two workers were killed during a blast at the crush plant last month.

An aide of KP Chief Minister Arif Ahmadzai told the media that limestone was abundant in the Khanpur area, which can fetch the KP government revenue from Rs200 million to Rs500 million and this income can further increase.

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In 2016, the Supreme Court taking notice of setting up of a crushing plant in the hills of Margalla and illegal mining in the area had issued orders for its closure.

A provincial government official said mineral department laws were being tightened to stop illegal mining.

Farid Khan, a resident of Khanpur, said there was a crush plant near his house and enormous stones often hit houses during blasting up on the mountain. Because of the blasting, cracks had appeared in the walls of houses.

The blasting is causing a loss of life and property. Several victims have given applications to higher authorities.

But the crush plant mafia is so powerful that no departmental, and no official has dared to take action against them.

Sources confirmed that the mining department has hastily approved the setting up of 300 crushing plants around the tourist spot on the banks of Khanpur Dam. Citizens of Khanpur have also been protesting on the streets against the crushing plant mafia for the last five years and several times protests have also been staged by blocking the Taxila Khanpur road.

Cutting down the beautiful and ancient mountains along the Khanpur Dam would be tantamount to destroying the natural beauty.

However, sources claimed that the mining department has approved the setting up of a large-scale crushing plant to increase its sources of revenue.

The department’s officials claimed that the crushing plant will create employment opportunities for 10,000 people, while the Environment Department officials say they are unaware of any environment feasibility study being done for the project.

This latest move to set up more crushing plants is sure to further provoke the people of Khanpur, where its natural beauty will be destroyed and decimate property values in the area.

The Khanpur-based crush plant owners were contacted several times, but no one was willing to speak to this correspondent.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2021.

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