A public hearing on Saturday rejected any possible move by the Sindh government to allow the extraction of granite from Karoonjhar hills in the Parkar region of Tharparkar district.
The public hearing was organized by officials of the Sindh government’s mines and minerals department and was largely attended by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, activists and leaders of the Karoonjhar Sujag Forum and people from different walks of life. The leaders of the forum including Allah Rakhio Khoso, Zulfikar Ali Khoso, Sagir Khaskheli, Khatau Jani, Dileep Permar, Wagho Mal Meghwar, Mir Mohammad Dal, Ramesh Karoonjhari, Ghulam Mustafa Dal, Faiz Khoso, and others made it clear that the people of Parkar region would never allow any move by Sindh government to give leases to extract granite from any part of the hills.
They said that the hills had great sanctity and significance for them and for the people who had love and special affection for them. “We have always voiced our deep concerns against the previous attempts by various companies and individuals to extract the granite from the hills,” they remarked.
They said that since almost every hill had religious, cultural and historical significance and sacredness, it was the need of the hour for a comprehensive and thorough survey by experts to protect its sites from any further damage being caused by some greedy people.
They said that they had filed the petition in Sindh High Court seeking the complete ban on the extraction of granite from the hills and the double bench of the court had also directed the Sindh chief secretary to form the committee to conduct the survey of the hills.
They said that there was a need to form the committee in light of the orders of the high court and to conduct the studies and surveys for the protection of the flora and fauna of the hills and other historical sites. They demanded the high-ups of the Sindh government form different committees comprising experts to protect and preserve various sites of the region by meeting with the local people instead of allowing the unscrupulous elements to cast their evil eyes on the precious Karoonjhar granite stones.
They said that there was a need to install the chairlift in the hills and to make sincere efforts to include the region among world heritage sites for its complete protection and preservation. They said that it would be a very unwise move and the cruel joke with them to use granite for commercial purposes. They added that a handsome amount of revenue could be collected by promoting tourism, as according to them, the hills over the years had attracted millions of the people after roads leading to different locations were constructed.
Qasim Siraj Soomro, the PPP MPA from Nagarparkar, fully endorsing the viewpoints of the leaders of Karoonjhar Sujag Forum and people of the hilly town, said that he would vehemently oppose any move to issue extraction permits. “Everybody loves the unmatched beauty and the great significance of Karoonjhar hills, therefore, nobody will be allowed to deface the beautiful hills,” he added.
Soomro said that there was also a need to put a ban on the extraction of China clay from different sites, which, according to him, was creating dangerous environmental hazards in the region. He furthered all such activities should be banned forthwith in the light of various recommendations made by experts after the studies. “We are here to promote tourism and protect its various sites,” he added and assured that he would take up the concerns of the people with the high officials of the party and the government of Sindh.
He assured the participants that he would stand with the people, who had been at the forefront to save Karoonjhar from any damage through the extraction.
The PPP MPA said that the high-ups of the Sindh government had already launched various projects to promote tourism and to boost agriculture by constructing the small dams to store rainwater.
The Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh, advocate Veerji Kolhi, who also hails from Parekar region, spoke on the occasion and assured people that being a true son of the soil, he would oppose extraction and maintained that they would not disappoint people, whose sentiments were attached to the Karoonjhar hills.
He said that PPP rulers in Sindh were giving special attention to bring agricultural revolution in the area by constructing more small dams and to construct the roads so that tourists could have an easy access to historical sites in the region.