Coal mines illegal extraction inflicts losses on national exchequer
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan has rich in natural resources and coal mines but due to government negligence its illegal and nonprofessional excavation causes huge losses to national exchequer, mining experts say.
Coal mines in country can be found and have a chain in different layers of Hindu Kush Mountains, starting from Badakhshan to Takhar, Baghlan, Samangan, Bamyan and Sar-i-Pul provinces with ending at Sabzak mine in Herat province.
Dr. Mir Fakhruddin, mines extraction department head at the geology and mines faculty of Polytechnic University, said the geological surveys conducted before political changes in 1992 showed there was 124 million tons of coal in the country.
In an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, he said the aerial minerals survey conducted by US in 2004 in Afghanistan showed that there was a billion tons of coal in the country.
But he said there were more minerals then projected in the US survey.
Geology and minerals experts divided the overall coal mines in five big zones including Pul-i-Khumri, Saighan and Ashpushta, Dara-i-Suf, Narinchal, Namak Ab and Sabzak in Herat which have 11 mines in different parts of the country.
The biggest coal mine is located in Dara-i-Suf which fulfills 80% of Afghanistan coal needs.
Coal extraction has been started before internal civil war started in Afghanistan. Some experts said the extraction of coal was being carried out in a professional way in Dara-i-Suf, Karkar, Dudkash, Eshpeshta, and Sabzak mines with the support of Indian and Czech experts before civil war in the country.
During the war, ground for illegal extraction of several mines was paved which resulted in nonprofessional and illegal extraction of coal mines with loss of many lives.
The illegal and without proper planning, the coal mines entail negative consequences such as explosion in Karkar mine in Baghlan province.
Another explosion in Abkhorak coal mine of Samangan province few months back left 23 workers dead and many dozens wounded.
Minerals and Petroleum Ministry alleged anti-state elements had placed explosives there, which caused casualties but investigations and monitoring organizations believed the explosion occurred as a result of density of gas inside the mine.
“Our findings have revealed suffocation from gas led to the explosion,” said, Javed Noorani, member of the investigative team with Integrity Watch, who said instead of eight workers, as many as 50 had been working in the coal mine--- a move that was against the demining law.
The investigation team recommended the government should arrest director of coal mine in north along with his team and produce them before the court.
Dr. Mir Fakhruddin believed, during the extraction of Abkhurak coal mine, the gas was not concisely checked and the extraction process was not identified.
All mines should be extracted based under proper plans and maps, and the excavation should take place in areas where needed substances are located, but nowadays illegal extractions were underway, he added.
He alleged that excavations of mines in illegal and nonprofessional way damaged precious stones inside the mine.
In addition, he said 4,000 workers had been working on the Karkar and Dodkash mines in Pul-i-Khumri, but after its selling to the Ghori Cement Factory, only 220 workers had been working who were extracting only the needed amount of coal.
Mohammad Daud Shuja Zada, an expert on mineral affairs, said huge damage had been done to the mine sector because of its unlawful and nonprofessional excavation.
He said extracting minerals in an illegal way was wasting the natural resources who offered the only available solution to the resolve the mining sector problem was implantation of established and relevant law.
Javed Noorani, who had the credit of conducting many assessments regarding coal extraction throughout the country, said limited groups were benefiting in an illegal way from extraction of mines while common people were deprived of its income.
Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he said minerals were a big asset for the country’s exchequer, which was the right of all Afghans otherwise its illegal extraction could trigger domestic war.
The most important issue, he said to be considered during coal extraction was to constantly checked the density of methane gas which exited in all coal mines.
He suggested gas density would result in coal mine explosion as was occurred in Abkhorak mine, which resulted in death and injury to hundreds of workers.
Based on his assessments, there are 370 to 375 spots in Samangan where coal is being unlawfully extracted by several groups but the government is unable to take any action to prevent its illegal use.
Illegal coal mines’ extraction was underway in Herat, Bamyan and other provinces and the government should adopt measures to protect the national assets in larger interests of the country.
After repeated attempts by Pajhwok Afghan News to get Mines and Petroleum Ministry’s version regarding illegal extractions of mines, the concerned officials did not return call or reply email.
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