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The Killid Group, November 17, 2013

Corruption shadow on mining

Nasir Ahmad from Karokh district said coal was being extracted illegally causing enormous loss to the exchequer

By Shoaib Tanha & Hamed Kohistani

Herat's provincial authorities led by Governor Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi are accusing the department of mines of allowing "powerful people" to "loot" the mines.

In an exclusive interview the governor told Killid, "The mines department of Herat has no control of the mines at all. There is no real supervision of the extraction, which is being exploited by powerful people."

There are allegations of corruption about the mining of marble in Chesht district and Sabzak where coal is being extracted by the company, Khushak Brothers. The head of the company is Mohammad Reza Khushak, member of parliament (MP) from Herat.

Governor Wahidi said the mines department was not publishing the details of the revenue earned by the Kushak Brothers from the two mines. The Mustofiat (revenue office) in every province has to be kept informed by provincial departments.

Mohammad Reza Khushak
Mohammad Reza Khushak, member of parliament (MP) from Herat. (Photo: Afghan-bios.info)

Sayed Zia-ul-haq Sakha, the head of Herat Mustofiat, confirmed the revenue of two mines - marble and coal - was not recorded in the Mustofiat for "unknown reasons" and instead was sent to Kabul. Under government regulations, since 2011, revenue from land, rent or from minerals found in the province, are to be recorded in the office of the Herat Mustofiat.

The provincial mines department has denied allegations of corruption, and insisted that annual earnings from mining had in fact increased by 30 percent last year, and it was being recorded in the Mustofiat. Jamel Elyasi, head of the mines department, told Killid they were preparing a document that would clear all the allegations of corruption and lack of transparency.

Elyasiclaimed the department had a "serious problem" of staff shortage, and they have intimated the central Ministry of Mines, but there has been no response. Rafi Sediqi, the spokesperson in theministry, insisted there was no problem in the "structure" of the Herat mines department.

Rich in mineral deposits, a quarter of the Ministry of Mines' mining projects in the years to come will be in Herat. At present there are 33 big and 20 small mining projects.

Loss to the exchequer

Masoda Karokhi, an MP from Herat, said mining was not supervised in the province. Nasir Ahmad from Karokh district said coal was being extracted illegally causing enormous loss to the exchequer.

Khushak Brothers were awarded the contract to mine in Kroch in 2006. There are allegations that the bidding was not fair, and the MP used "influence". The company has made enormous profits extracting upwards of 70 tonnes of coal daily.

Company head Reza Khushak told Killid the mines department sends inspectors to the mine every two weeks. The inspector is changed every couple of months to make sure the process is transparent.

There are allegations that Kushak Brothers are not mining marble in Chesht district with stone cutters as agreed under the contract with the mines department, but using dynamite, which is dangerous.

Toryalai Taheri, representative in the Herat provincial council, who made the accusation, said there was "big corruption" in Chesht.

Sayed Abdul Wase, a resident of Chesht district, confirmed the company has been dynamiting for marble.

However, the head of mines department Jamel Elyasi insisted the company is using cutters, which are an economical process.

Reza Khushak urged the government to provide security to mines. The more security there is for workers there will be more profit for the government, he argued.

Provincial police authorities claimed special security arrangements are being put in place. Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, the spokesperson of Herat police, insisted the prevailing situation is not insecure because mineworkers and officials are going "freely to mines".

Category: Corruption - Views: 4738