Alabaster deposits in Helmand still being excavated illegally
LASHKARGHA (Pajhwok): Officials in southern Helmand province on Sunday said six contracts for the excavation of alabaster had been inked but illegal digging of the stone was still ongoing in different areas.
Addressing a gathering on the protection of natural resources, forests and historic relics, Border and Tribal Affairs Director Ahmad Naveed Nazariacknowledged the illegal excavation of alabaster had been stepped up in the province.
He said most of the gypsum stone was being smuggled to Pakistan, form where it was exported under Pakistani labels. He urged tribal elders and residents to help stop the illegal excavation of alabaster.
Habibullah Haqparast, head of the mine and petroleum department, confirmed the unlawful digging of the stone was underway at different sites across the province.
“The ministry has inked agreements with only six companies, but in some parts of the province people continue to exploit the precious mineral and smuggle it to Pakistan,” he said. Haqparast warned unprofessionally and illegally excavated alabaster lost its value in the market.
Ali Shah Mazlumyar, information and culture director, expressed concern over the poor state of historical sites and monuments in the province. He said the history of the province was being damaged but no steps were taken to protect historical sites.
But Governor Hayatullah Hayat claimed devising effective plans to crack down on illegal excavation of minerals. He sought public help in preventing land-grab, deforestation and unauthorised digging of minerals.
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