BUNER: The marble owners in Salarzai Bampokha here on Tuesday blocked the road leading to Swat to protest imposition of section 4 by the district administration, depriving them of their right to lease out the marble mining.

They demanded of the district administration to lift the ban forthwith or all the Salarzai tribes would come onto the roads in defence of their rights.

Despite heavy rain, the protesters kept the road blocked for two hours. However, later they dispersed peacefully when assistant commissioner, Daggar, Latiur Rehman assured them of solution to their problems through negotiation with the deputy commissioner.

The speakers, including former MPA Mufti Fazal Ghafoor, highlighted the sensitivity of the issue and said lease holder Ghulam Haider was now trying to occupy the marble mines through court litigation. They added that the district administration, instead of defending the due rights of locals, was also working to fulfill the agenda of the lease holder.

They demanded of the district administration to plead their case of ownership right over marble mines in court.

Later, the protesters told mediapersons that the lease holder should wind up his operations, otherwise the locals won’t be responsible if any untoward incident occurred.

However, the lease holder told Dawn on phone that the case was in the court of law, adding being the legal owner of marble-rich lands he wanted to introduce mechanised mining instead of use of explosives to avoid environmental pollution.

He said for introducing mechanised methodology it was necessary to invite foreign investors, adding for safety of investors the government’s involvement was a must regarding land acquisition. He hoped that major shareholders would support his efforts to promote marble mining in the region.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019