ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has asked the Ministry of Interior to hand over the control of the minerals located in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to it (MP&NR), it was learnt reliably here Friday.

Source privy to the development told The Nation that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural resources has requested the Ministry of Law to change the rule of business for handing over the control of federal minerals located in Federal Capital Territory from the ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Petroleum.

Under the mineral policy, the minerals located in Islamabad Capital Territory come under the control of the ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources but from the past four years they are controlled by the administration of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

It is a source of revenue for them as the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) works under the ministry of Interior. Under the 1973 Constitution, the territories that comprise Pakistan are “the provinces of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh; the Islamabad Capital Territory… [and] Federally Administered Tribal Areas.”

Article 172 requires that any property which has no rightful owner shall, if located in a province, vests in the government of that province and in every other case, in the federal government. All lands, minerals and other things of value within the continental shelf or underlying the ocean beyond the territorial waters of Pakistan shall vest in the federal government.

Under Article 172 of the constitution, the provincial governments have been empowered to make rules for the grant of mineral concessions and titles in respect of any mineral falling in its jurisdiction. The federal government on the other hand is committed to provide a standard model agreement that would be followed by the provincial governments to ensure reduced role of bureaucracy in dealing with grant of contracts and licences.

Also, subject to the existing commitments and obligations, mineral oil and natural gas within the provinces and the territorial waters adjacent thereto shall vest jointly and equally in that province and the federal government.

Under the Mineral policy 2013, the federal government will make amendments in rules and laws to place mineral sector of FATA, ICI and international offshore water territories under regulatory control of the petroleum ministry .

The federal government in negotiating mineral agreements with foreign mining companies. Since the mineral deposits of ICT zre not under the control of MP&NR therefore they have no authority to make rules for these deposits, the source informed.

The area of Islamabad Capital Territory is around 906 km2 and surrounded by the Margalla hills. The Margalla Hills are part of Margalla Hills National Park that spreads over an area of about 15,800 hectares and is situated on the northern, eastern and western sides of Islamabad. It was given the status of a national park in 1980, after the government recognized the growing threat to its flora and fauna.

The Margalla hills has limestone and according to some experts, it also has mercury, gold and diamonds deposits.

“We have already discussed the matter with the ministry of Interior and they are ready to hand over the mineral sector of ICT to MP&NR,” the source informed, adding: “We have to fulfil certain legal and constitutional prerequisites before taking over the mineral sector”.