Mining in tribal districts

Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has lifted ban on granting lease for mining in the tribal districts, which was imposed after the merger of these districts with the province. Mining licenses shall be issued on the receipt of online application from January 2. As per the provisions of new Mining Act, local tribal contractors shall be given preference.

Over the past decades mining of marbles, granite, chromium and precious stone in tribal areas had been done with the use of obsolete technology, causing colossal waste of mineral resources. The mineral policy which was announced in May, 2016 made the use of modern technology mandatory for mining of marble and other valuable minerals. However, the technology clause of the mineral policy is yet to be invoked and put into practice. There are also frequent complaints of illegal mining in the merged districts toward which local administration has adopted a strategy of masterly inactivity.

Bulk of the mineral extracted from the tribal districts is sold in raw form except the value addition of marble. In 2003 a plan for establishing industries for the value addition of mineral in the name of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) had been chalked out the implementation of which had to be suspended due unfavourable security environment in these areas. Peace has now returned to the tribal areas of former FATA and the ROZs plan needs to be brought to the front burner. The line departments responsible for the execution of development projects are plagued by capacity issues. During the first quarter of the current fiscal year less than 1 percent of development budget of Rs.83 billion has been spent in the first quarter. Mere censure from the chief executive of the province will not the situation on ground.