LANDI KOTAL, Oct 22: About 70 stone crushing units have been closed in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency for the last three years owing to the ongoing military operation and worse law and order situation, according to sources.

They said that closure of stone crushing units cause huge financial losses to the owners. Almost all those units were set up along Besai Ghar, a mountain, in Shalobar-Qambar area of Bara at different times.

Sources told Dawn that about 3,000 local labourers were attached to those units. They said that security forces in consultation with local political administration closed down all those units after the start of military operation in September 2009.

Security officials at that time apprehended that explosive material, used for blasting huge stones at Besai Ghar, was also smuggled to different militant organisations.

A ban on use of explosives for all types of stone excavation was also imposed besides closure of crushing units.

Haji Ibrahim Khan, owner of a stone crushing unit, told Dawn that they exhausted all their efforts to reopen the closed units but security forces were not allowing them to restart their activities.

He said that they spent millions of rupees on setting up a unit. “Now most of these units have become useless owing to prolonged closure and stealing of some major parts of the machinery by unidentified people,” he added.

Haji Ibrahim said that they were ready to follow the rules devised for use of explosives in Mohmand, Darra Adamkhel, Orakzai and other parts of Fata for excavation of large stones. “We met with the army officials and government functionaries but to no avail as they always ask us to wait,” he said.

Haji Ibrahim said that crushed stones were taken from Bara to a number of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that they had a roaring business before the launch of military operation in the area. “Almost all labourers have lost their jobs while the owners are bearing losses of millions of rupees,” he said.

He demanded of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, Peshawar corps commander and inspector general of Frontier Corps to help them in reopening their closed units to save their families from starvation.

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