Illegal coal mining continues unchecked
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Residents have been illegally mining coalfields in northern Samangan province, officials said on Thursday.
In Dara-i-Sauf Payan district, a coalmine in Gola area is illegally dug up by local residents, the district chief, Humayun, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
“Common people are benefiting from that coalmine. Residents take home coal from the field for domestic use and we have been able to prevent its sale in the market,” the official said.
He added residents had been convinced through the involvement of elders that the mines were national treasures and their unauthorised digging was a crime, which should be stopped.
The coalmine is 70 kilometres from the district centre and the road leading to it is in a rundown condition, according to Humayun. The government has ignored the area and little progress has been made in legalising mining.
He said vehicles could not ply the road due to hills and mounds and residents used donkey and horses for transportation.
The district chief said he had time and again contacted senior government officials with regard to initiating legal extraction, but failed to elicit a positive response.
A resident of the district, Abdul Wahid, confirmed people had long been extracting coal from the field in Gola area. “It is an open secret. Everyone in Dara-i-Sauf is aware of this. Officials know the coal is illegally extracted and supplied to plain areas on animals for sale.”
In Dara-i-Sauf Bala district, two coalmines in Shabak and Dahna Tor areas have been illegal dug by residents.
A resident of the town, Hamidullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News that government-authorised and bootleg mining was simultaneously underway at the sites.
The governor’s spokesman, Sadiqullah Azizi, said they were trying to legalise mining in the province. However, he said most mines in Samangan were located in inaccessible areas.
About illegal mining in Dara-i-Sauf Payan and Bala, Azizi said they had repeatedly approached the central government to blacktop roads leading to the fields, but to no avail.
On the other hand, Mines and Petroleum Ministry spokesman Mohammad Rafi Rafiq Siddique said they needed cooperation from security organs to prevent illegal mining and secure such remote sites.
He said the governor’s house in Samangan was the competent authority to look-after mines and take measures for their security.
Siddique said the minister of mines had proposed to the parliament giving a military battalion into his ministry’s control in order to curb illegal mining and smuggling.
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