Islamabad - The Supreme Court yesterday banned quarrying and stone crushing at National Park and buffer zones, established by the Punjab government, in Margalla Hills.

The director general Mines and Mineral Punjab has been directed to stop illegal mining in these areas. Assistant Advocate General Punjab Mudasir Khalid Abbasi told the court that lease of six stone crushing factories expired two years ago but they took stay order from the civil courts and continue mining. He informed that the Punjab government had decided not to grant mining lease to these factories.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, heading a two-judge bench which heard suo moto regarding blasting and crushing of Margalla Hills, said there is situation in many areas where lease had expired in 2010 or 2011 but still mining is going on.

The chief justice said neither these companies nor anyone else should be given mining lease of Margalla Hills.

The DG mines and mineral Punjab said that thousands of people are associated with the trade of stone crushing and quarrying and this sector also contribute money in the national exchequer. He said that the provincial government had established 53 blocks outside the buffer zone at Margalla Hills. He said the activities in 53 zones would not affect the National Park and the Margalla Hills, adding the lease for crushing or quarrying will be given only in the blocks.

The DG mines Punjab further said, “We have also stopped the illegal mining.” He said the stone of Margalla Hills and Sargodha Hills will be used in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and the construction of bridges and roads.

Justice Jamali said the court is not in favour of rendering people jobless by placing a ban on stone crushing completely as stones from Margalla Hills will be used in the CPEC and other national important projects. He, however, said the Taxila mountains have been destroyed by cutting them.

Earlier, the AAG Punjab informed that the order of the apex court does not relate to the province of Punjab as major portion of National Park falls in the jurisdiction of Islamabad Capital Territory and only 5 per cent area is in Rawalpindi.

He said they have divided Margalla Hills in three areas; first is the National Park, second ICT and the third is buffer zone. He told the Punjab government has banned the mining inside the buffer zone.

The hearing was adjourned till Friday.