MINGORA: Hundreds of gemstone traders on Wednesday marched through streets and protested against illegal mining at one of Asia’s largest emerald mines in Swat and silence of the district government.
The angry protesters were carrying placards in their hands and chanted slogans against the government for not taking measures to stop the ‘gemstone mafia’ from illegal excavation at mines in Mingora.
Later, the protesting traders also held a press conference in favor of their demands.
Addressing the press conference, Gem-Stone Merchant Association (GsMA) President Junaid Afarin Khan said some influential ‘land mafia’ had taken over the emerald mine for the past couple of months and involved in illegal excavation of emerald.
He said, in 2010, the government had auctioned the mining site for Rs100 million to its ‘favorite bidder’, adding that it had been five months since the auction was over but the powerful mafia in collusion with the mining department had yet not shut down the excavation at the mining site.
The GsMA president said the mining department has maintained silence over declaring a new date for auctioning the site, despite the contract is over.
Afarin Khan blamed the mining department for colluding with the influential mafia and not announcing a date for new auctioning the site.
Highlighting miseries of the laborers, he said there had been over 5000 laborers, working on daily wages, at the site, leaving them jobless. Due to illegal occupation of mine mafia, they have been forced out of the site, he deplored.
Afarin Khan also blamed the mining department for taking a bribe and auctioned the Shamozai emerald mines to its favorite bidder for Rs200 million, much less than its value.
He demanded of the government to look into the matter and address the gemstone merchant’s reservation.
We want the government to issue us the auctioning documents of the Shamozai mining site, punish the corrupt officials in the mining department, and immediately set a date for auctioning the Mingora’s emerald mining site.”