KARACHI - The Sindh High Court on Thursday restrained Sindh government from giving possession of 3,200 acres mining lease to Lakhra Coal Mining Company until November 22.

A division bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar issued direction while hearing a plea filed by Sagar Ujjan challenging grant of 3,200 acres mining lease to the Lakhra Coal Mining Company by the caretaker provincial government.

The petitioner stated that the caretaker government has made such agreement without fulfilling the required formalities and had violated the law to issue a notification to provide government’s land to the coal mining company. 

While submitting his arguments, the petitioner’s counsel, Barrister Zamir Ghumro has submitted that caretaker chief minister Sindh had no power to grant lease under section 230 of the election act, 2017.

Besides, the lease of huge mining area has been given without bidding as provided under the law. He said caretaker chief Minister allegedly violated law by granting lease without bidding.

The lawyer contended that there was no approval of the cabinet regarding conducting the bid.

After hearing his initial arguments, the bench adjourned the hearing until November 22, and issued notices to the respondents, the court also restrained the Sindh government from handing over possession to the Lakhra Coal mining Company till the next order.

SHC seeks details from PPL

The Sindh High Court on Thursday sought detailed report from Pakistan Petroleum Limited Company (PPL) from 2004 regarding developments and welfare of the local people as per apex court’s order. 

The direction was issued by a SHC bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh which was hearing a plea filed by Muhammad Aftab seeking contempt of court proceedings against the authorities concerns over the non-implementation of court orders.

Advocate general Sindh appeared before the bench and pleaded to give further time to submit reply from the provincial government.

Counseling on behalf of the PPL, advocate Shahab Sarki submitted that all stakeholders were bound to comply with the Supreme Court’s order. He, however, offered his services to assist for complying the court’s order that issued to take initiatives for the developments of local areas and to develop skills of local people and provide them employments in the oil companies operating in Badin and Kamber Shahdadkot.  

The PPL’s counsel sought further time to submit report in this regard, the court granted requests from the AG and PPL’s counsel and adjourned hearing till November 21.

The court also directed chief secretary to submit a report regarding tax collection from the oil companies in the next hearing. 

In last hearing, the bench had directed to the oil and gas companies to submit details of their profit and tax records. The court also sought complete record of 59-years and tax paid during such tenure from the companies operating in both districts. The court also directed to submit record regarding profit from the day of their establishment.

In his petition, the plaintiff submitted that despite the apex court’s order, the companies still failed to carry out welfare and developmental work locally. The cleric hired by Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) in Kandhkot belongs to Azad Kashmir while salaries in PPL are dispersed through a third-party, it reads, adding that influential landlords are part of the third-party that get a handsome amount. Out of 90 officers in PPL, only three are locals.

According to a report submitted by former Ghotki deputy commissioner, Qadirpur Gas Field didn’t release any funds for development despite testifying that they had done so. The DC was transferred because he had revealed the truth in his report.

The petitioner stated that these companies were obliging feudal lords and not residents. He added that whether the residents should leave the area since the companies only seemed to need resources.

Kamber Shahdadkot DC Javed Jageerani had also informed that only one of six engineers is local. The court reprimanded the DC and asked if he was aware that injustice was being done with the locals. The court added that the DC shouldn’t create a situation where future generations will be compelled to beg.