KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the protection of cultural, religious and archeological heritage at Karunjhar Range was his first and top most priority before exploring the mining potential of different mineral, including granite, China Clay, Iron Ore, Fuller Earth and Gold.
This he said on Thursday while presiding over a meeting of Mines & Mineral Department to discuss mining issues of Karunjhar Range, Tharparka. The meeting was attended by Minister Mines & Mineral Shabir Bijarani, MPA Qasim Siraj Soomro, Chairman TDAP Arif Ahmed Khan, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Mines & Mineral Zulfiqar Shah, DG Mines & Mineral Nawaz Sohu and others.
The meeting was told that over 10 billion tons of granite deposits were available at Karoonjhar Range, apart from vast reserves of China Clay, Iron Ore, Fuller Earth and Gold deposits. At this the chief minister said that these huge deposits would bring prosperity in the province, particularly in the local area, if they are taped. “But, before unlocking the reserves we will have to safeguard and protect the cultural, religious and archeological heritage in the range,” he said.
Secretary Mines & Mineral Zulfikar Shah briefing the chair said that at Karunjhar Range area covers Dhingano Forest, Karunjhar Forest, Sadurus Forest, Karujhar Hills and Wild Life Sanctuary.
wildlife sanctuary has been declared over an area of 200,000 acres, Creek/Wildlife 84090 acres, The Karunjhar Hill spreads over 21,100 acres, Forest area 18704 acres and there are 28 dam sites over 17930 acres and 20 archeological Sites over an area of 1601 acres.
The protected area spreads over 49,186.46 acres and Mineral Lease Area 31,480.58 acres, of which 8128 acres falls in the protected area. The area leased out for minerals include 20364 acre for China Clay, 6241.73 acres granite, 4073.93 acres Fuller’s earth and 800 acres for Iron Ore.
The chief minister said that all the cultural, historical, religious and potential tourism sites have to be excluded and their sustainability has to be safeguarded. The forest land be excluded from the area in which granite or any other mineral mining is proposed to be allowed.
He said that the license/permit for granite mining in Karunjhar area, if granted, may be made conditional with setting up of industry within the limits of Tharparkar district in order to ensure value addition, employment generation and positive social benefits of the activity. He also added that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as has been made by SECMC would be an integral part of such permission, if and when granted.
Mr Shah also directed Mines & Mineral department to prepare a draft policy under which at least one third of the mining/permits may be reserved for the local residents of Tharparkar Disttrict to ensure their inclusion and participation in the mining activity.
The chief minister also directed the department to prepare the profile of the entire Karunjhar Range and area about the reserves of the mineral, their quantity and the facilities the government has to offer to the potential investors.
It was pointed out that the India government was making billions of dollars from the mineral falling across the border towards India. They were exploiting the resources and selling granite all over the world. Sindh can follow the course, if all the protected areas are safeguarded, Murad Shah said.
The chief minister directed the department to present their detailed briefing for the cabinet so that an appropriate policy for mining could be formulated. The chief minister also directed the department to consult with all the stakeholders, including local people for making the draft policy.