LOWER DIR: Elders of Deolai Shamshi Khan area here on Wednesday alleged that the minerals development department awarded mines leases on their lands without their consent, and asked it to immediately cancel the same.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, PTI village council chairman Malik Aurangzeb, Malik Yaqub Khan, Mohammad Bilal and others said they had recorded their complaint during a news conference before Eid, but the authorities concerned did not pay heed.

“The contractor has started excavating precious minerals like granite,” Mr Aurangzeb said, adding heavy trucks taking the rocks away were damaging the village’s link road, while the blasting was also drying up natural springs and destroying pastures in the surrounding areas.

Another villager said five to seven tonnes load was allowed on the link road, but trucks with 40 tonnes of load passed through it daily. He said students of a nearby girls’ school were afraid of blasting. He pointed out that granite was being sold in the market at Rs600,000 per truck, while the contractor paid only Rs1,800 to the government and Rs3,000 to the owner.

Official says leases awarded years ago as per rules

He alleged the assistant director of minerals department, Lower Dir, and a clerk were involved in the award of ‘illegal’ leases. The elders said the landowners had also met the district administration officials, high-ups of the communication and works and forest departments in that regard, but to no avail. Meanwhile, assistant director mines and minerals Ijazullah told Dawn on contact that he had nothing to do with the award of mines’ leases. He said the same was awarded by a competent lease committee at the provincial level as per the relevant rules. “I cannot say anything regarding this specific lease,” Mr Ijaz said, adding the lease had been awarded years ago. He, however, said some people were contacting him to get a share in the lease that was not his domain.

He said many leases had been awarded in the Lower Dir district and the minerals department always resolved issues if there were any.

DROWNS: A child drowned; a youth was shot dead, and 11 persons were injured in road accidents during the Eid days, Rescue 1122 officials said on Wednesday.

They said a child drowned in Panjkora River in Shalpalum area of Khall on Wednesday.

Similarly, a youth, identified as Yasir Syed, was shot dead by unknown men in Gorgia area of Timergara.

Rescue officials said there were five incidents of forest fires in different mountains across the district, besides a house fire. They said firefighters responded in time and brought the fires under control.

They said seven people were injured when a car fell into a deep ravine in Maidan on second day of Eid.

Four other persons were injured when a car fell into a ravine on Odigram Road.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2024

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