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November 9, 2018

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Private firm restrained from mining at Lakhra coalfield

Private firm restrained from mining at Lakhra coalfield

The private coal mining company that was awarded a permit for exploration of coal on 1,818 acres of the Lakhra coalfield in Jamshoro assured the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday that the firm would not start extraction until further court orders.

The assurance came on a petition of one Sagar Ujjan, who had challenged the mines & mineral department’s notification of awarding a permit to the private company for exploration at the Lakhra coalfield.

The petitioner’s counsel Zamir Ghumro claimed that the permit was awarded to the private company without inviting any bid and that it was issued on the orders of the caretaker chief minister.

He said the interim CM had no authority to grant a lease under Section 230 of the Election Act 2017. Besides, the lease of a huge mining area has been issued without bidding, which is required by the law, he added.

Ghumro said the caretaker chief executive had violated the law by granting a lease without bidding and without the approval of the provincial cabinet. He requested the court to issue a restraining order to stop the handing over of the land until the next date of hearing.

Representing the coal mining company, Khaleeq Ahmed said that there was no illegality in the awarding of the mining permit to his client. He said that under Rule 68 of the Sindh Mining Concession Rules 2002, the licensing authority may on such conditions as it thinks fit invite competitive bids.

Ahmed said a case summary was floated during the tenure of the elected government but, he admitted, the possession of the land is yet to be given to the company. He assured the court that extraction and exploration would not be started until further orders.

After taking on record the statement of the private company in the presence of its CEO, the SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar adjourned the hearing until November 22, restraining the firm from mining at the Lakhra coalfield.

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