PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Friday tried to stem a raging controversy over the reports of its taking over mines in merged districts by declaring them propaganda.
Addressing a joint news conference, mines and mineral minister Dr Amjad Ali Khan, law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan and adviser to the chief minister Ajmal Wazir said a negative impression was being created against the KP Mineral Sector Governance (Amendment) Act, 2019, which the provincial assembly passed in the Nov 13 session.
They claimed that the residents retained the ownership of mines and minerals in their respective tribal districts under the new legislation.
Section 6(2A) of the law, which declares, “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law, or in any order or decree of Court or other authority, or in any rule of custom or usage, or in any contract, instrument, deed or other document, all mines and minerals shall be and shall always be deemed to have been the property of Government, and Government shall have all powers necessary for the proper enjoyment of its right thereto,’ has sparked a backlash as both opposition parties and general public have likened it with takeover of merged district’s mineral resources, which are in tribes ownership.
Insists residents retain mine ownership under new law
Mr Wazir said the amended act had a special schedule, VIII, to safeguard the rights of the people of merged districts to the local mines and minerals.
He said under the amended legislation, the government had given the ownership of mines and minerals to the local population promising development and employment to the residents of the war-ravaged region.
The adviser said under the new law, priority for the grant of mineral title would be with the local community, which owned and possessed the land having mineral resources.
He said with the consent of the local community through an open auction, any of its members could obtain the mineral title for the area owned by it.
Mr Wazir said the due share of the local community in the mineral-bearing area as promised in the local customs would be identified by the district administration through an open auction followed by the registration of the deed with the registrar concerned.
He said the minerals all over the country were owned by the state on whose basis, the mineral titles or licences were issued.
The adviser said the same had laid out in the article 172(2) of the constitution. He said that under this constitutional provision, mines and minerals have been declared government ownership in the Regulation of Mines and Oilfields and Mineral Development Act 1948 and Land Revenue Act 1967 and the same section has been inserted in the KP Mineral Sector Governance (Amendment) Act 2019.
He said under the same provisions, mineral titles had been issued in the erstwhile Fata in the past. However, the legislation states that the special provisions mentioned in Schedule VIII of pertaining to mineral resources in the merged districts shall be valid for the maximum period of 10 years giving the ownership of mines and minerals to the local residents.
Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan said the government’s positive initiative regarding mines and minerals was being maligned through propaganda.
He said the mine definition mentioned in the law was in vogue in rest of the country.
The minister said the government won’t allow anything, which went against the interest of tribesmen.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019