Lives of township dwellers seen in danger
PUL-I-KHUMRI (PAN): Officials say they are concerned about the safety of dwellers of a controversial township located near coalmines in northern Baghlan province.
Nearly 1,900 residential houses have been constructed in the township spread on 5,000 acres of land near the coalmine in the Kakar Valley, 15 km northeast of Pul-i-Khumri -- the provincial capital.
The provincial mines and environment protection departments have not been consulted on the township’s construction.
Environment Protection Director Noorullah Amini told Pajhwok Afghan News the township was situated close to the coalmine, where a natural disaster could threaten the inhabitants’ lives.
He said the township lacked environment protection facilities and its dwellers drank contaminated water.
“Some people have established up to four-storey buildings in the township, where water used by dwellers goes deep into the coal deposits, which can cause a huge disaster,” Amini believed.
Amini said they had repeatedly conveyed their concerns to the Ministry of Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency in Kabul and provincial authorities, but to no avail.
Pul-i-Khumri Mayor Abdullah Hisar said only 720 residential plots had to be built in the township as approved by the Presidential Office after the Baghlan Municipality recommended the plots’ distribution to families three years back.
He said some powerful warlords had been grabbing large swaths of land attached to the township over the past two years and had constructed houses on the usurped land near the coalmine.
Meanwhile, Baghlan Reconstruction and Development Plan head Eng. Abdul Khaliq said every construction should be started after the soil sample was examined and a complete technical survey of the area was conducted and shared with the Environmental Protection Agency.
However, he said the governor’s house had no documents showing the required standards had been followed in the construction of Kakar Township to assure the safety of its residents.
The Ghori Cement Plant is also a kilometer away from the township.
Eng. Khaliq also feared a potential natural disaster could hit the residential area if explosions occurred in the coalmine.
He said the authorities had launched a survey in the area to determine if the township stood on mineral deposits.
In that case, he said the township would be canceled and its residents shifted to another area.
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