Minerals are a gift by nature through which a country can boost its economy. Luckily, the valley of Swat, Shangla and Buner are rich in minerals. The extraction of these metamorphic rocks is carried out through primitive techniques in which uncontrolled blasting is a common mode. In almost all mines, the fundamental equipment, such as compressors and drill set, is not available, which enhances the wastage and degrades the quality of these resources. Workers in mines are not fully skilled and up-to-date with the required knowledge. They rely only on non-scientific methods. According to a report of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda), only 10 tons per day is the average production. There is no scientific management of the drainage of toxic water that runs from industries and directly drains into fresh water resources.

Today in the valley of Swat almost all fresh water resources are polluted, which has reduced the chances of survival of fish and other fresh water flora and fauna. It is a fact that the only source of irrigation along the riverside of Swat is the Indus River. Owing to these pollutants, the ecosystem has been damaged. Fish like aspidoparia morar, puntius ticto (a lower Swat river fish), salmostoma, schizothorax labiatus, choprai, naseeri, glyptothorax are extinct. This ecological imbalance is now visible. It has seriously affected living beings, water, household needs, fishing and the domestic economy. The EIA and IEE, which serve as a tool in policy to avoid such damage to ecology, exist only on paper. A majority of marble factories and hotels are not up to the standard laid down by the EIA and the IEE.I request external donor companies and international NGOs to take some immediate steps to solve these issues by launching a comprehensive programme to save the beauty of Swat.

S TAIMUR,

Swat, April 22.