Unchecked Granite and Gravel extraction threatens Karoonjhar Hills

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Illegal extraction and quarrying activities targeting granite stones and gravel have been escalating without restraint across various points of the picturesque Karoonjhar hills in Mithi. Leaders from the Karoonjhar Sujag Forum, including Allah Rakhio Khoso, Zulfikar Ali Khoso, Sagir Khaskheli, and Ghulam Mustafa Dal, are calling upon the Sindh Government’s authorities to take decisive action against this ongoing exploitation.

Speaking to the media on Monday, forum representatives expressed their dismay over the unrestricted quarrying of granite and gravel, highlighting the blatant disregard for regulations. They raised concerns about contractors engaging in illegal activities, extracting these valuable resources to build small dams for rainwater storage and using them in various construction projects, including road infrastructure, throughout the region.

Despite frequent protests, these activities continue unchecked, in defiance of court orders and in plain sight of local authorities. Even though the Sindh High Court’s double bench had recently imposed a comprehensive ban on mining and extraction across the entire Parkar region, based on a petition by Advocate Shankar Meghwar, heavy machinery-driven extraction persists in multiple locations. The leaders asserted that District Commissioner Tharparkar Lal Dino Mangi had issued orders to halt such activities following the court’s directive, but the implementation remains inadequate.

Citing the rich cultural, religious, and historical significance of the Karoonjhar hills, the forum leaders emphasized that over 106 sacred sites have been designated due to the presence of Jain temples and revered religious structures. These hills also host monuments commemorating historical and folk heroes like Rooplo Kolhi, who fought against British colonial invaders. The leaders warned that unless stringent actions are taken against those violating regulations, they will escalate their protests, broadening their scope to raise awareness and advocate for change.

Desert district rights activists condemned the ongoing illegal practices and urged government authorities to enforce a comprehensive ban on activities further endangering the hills. The plight of the Karoonjhar hills stands as a reminder of the delicate balance between development and preservation, prompting a call for immediate action to safeguard these invaluable natural and historical treasures.

Hanif Samoon is a senior journalist based at Thar/Badin and contributes reports from different districts of Sindh to Minute Mirror. He has won a number of awards, including the Agahi Award twice for his stories on health and child rights. He tweets @HanifSamoon1 and can be reached through email at hanifsamoon@gmail.com