The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Metals, Minerals & Gems Association has expressed reservations over the proposed Mining Concession Rules 2014, describing it an attempt to deprive people of their wealth.
The Mining Concession Rules 2014 were reportedly formulated by the G-B Council, a body chaired by the prime minister, to regulate mining of minerals. The rules are to be tabled in the council for approval once finalised and vetted by experts.
“The mining concession rules are anti-people and will fuel an uprising against the colonial policies of the Ministry of Kashmir and G-B Affairs,” said the association’s chairman, Shehbaz Khan. “We’ve discussed the proposed rules in the general body meeting and have rejected them as the rules make a mockery of the federal government’s claim that the people of G-B have been given autonomy under the Empowerment & Self Governance Order, 2009,” Khan told The Express Tribune on Thursday.
He said the UN and its Universal Declaration (Agenda 21: Chapter 26) has called on governments to recognize that the lands of indigenous people and their communities be protected from activities considered to be socially and culturally inappropriate.
As a signatory to this declaration, Pakistan has the moral responsibility to uphold the ownership rights prevailing in the customary laws of G-B to protect the rights of indigenous people, said Khan.
Terming it a draconian law, Khan said the power given to the G-B Council to sign mining agreements to fetch ‘Substantial Foreign Investment’ is the same method used by the rulers of African and Latin American states. Their unwise decisions drained the mineral resources in a few years as they opened them for multinational companies, he added. “The proposed rules are no different and may prove disastrous for G-B if approved.”
The rugged mountainous landscape in G-B is a treasure trove of gem stones and precious mineral resources. The most prominent ones among them are ruby, emerald, aquamarine, sapphire and tourmaline.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.
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