12 September 2012

Chamalang Coal Mines - Pak Army's Gift to the Nation

Inaugural Monument promising a brighter future for Balochistanis
The largest coalmines in Asia and the 2nd largest in the world situated in Dukki Tehsil/Loralai District

Chamalang mountain range is situated about 40-45 KMs north of Kohlu in tehsil Duki of Balochistan province. The reserves are spread over at an area of 7x60 KMs. The Chamalang coal mines due to fine quality of coal and its availability close to surface has the potential to generate significant economy activities in the area including employment capacity, revenue generation to the stakeholders and the government.
However, due to dispute between LUNI and MARRI Tribes excavation was halted since long. The feud resulted into lot of blood shed and complete shut down of the mine. Later, on the request of Balocistan government, the Pakistan Army intervened and successfully resolved the dispute between the two tribes. An agreement was signed and the once rivals became friends. Now the field is under military's control (for provision of security and administrative handling only) and coal is being mined under an estimate of 30000 tons per month.

It is believed that the coal mining activities would benefit people of the area and would ensure peaceful/friendly environment for development, thereby enhancing the public confidence people friendly policies of the federal and provincial governments. It has been learnt that the project has generated employment for approximately 40,000 individuals. Has the production capacity of initially about 6000 tons per day once only two companies started excavation. However on its full operational sation, excavation of approximately 25,000 tons coal worth Rs. 100 million per day is expected.. The coal was being explored 500 feet below the surface in the Sorenj and Digari coalfields while the fine quality of coal would be available even from less than 20 feet depth in Chamalang coalfield.

The Inaugural Monument at Chamalang:


Here’s what the plates say:

Left Side Plate:


Right Side Plate:


Pakistan Army had only one aim/rule in mind when it agreed to resolve the dispute; 
Minimum involvement by the Army, Maximum input by the Locals 

Keeping the above statement as the yard stick, the Army only employed local human resource for kick-starting the project. However, expertise in the form of Engineers resources, technical know how through Geological Survey of Pakistan and managerial skills were readily provided by the Army.

Resultantly, the entire project is now being run and maintained by the locals themselves to include the Miners, Contractors, Weighing Station and Transportation facilities. Even the responsibility of provision of security is shared by the locals i.e. approximately 5000 locals have been hired who assist the Army in securing the mining areas. This local security force is known as Chamalang Levies (CL) and is paid out of the income generated through the coal excavation. This step was also considered necessary to provide additional job opportunities to the locals. However, the administrative and operational control of CL rests with the Army which mans sensitive areas through its own resources.
Keeping view the large number of locals employed at Chamanlang Coal Mines a need was felt to provide residential/medical facilities to them at the site. However, the area being one of the remotest parts of Balochistan caused huge difficulties for any development work. Still, in order to bring the mining procedures at par with international standards and in the interest of long term employment of workers the Pakistan Army under took this gigantic task with sheer dedication and successfully completed the construction of a hospital and 3 x Labor Colonies.

You can view these structures on Google Maps below. Please view the surroundings by zooming out so that the wilderness of the area can seen.

Jinnah Colony (Hospital building on the left side):

Iqbal Colony:

Bolan Colony:

Black Pearl: Chamalang Coal Mines - Documentary
Part - 1

Part - 2


Rs 6 Billion Generated From Chamalang Coalmines Project

From APP

By Rehan Khattak LORALAI, Jul 1 (APP):

Marris and Lunis tribes have appreciated Pakistan army’s role for providing security to Chamalang coalmines project and resolving years old intra-tibal conflict.The resolution has made possible excavation of 1.5 million tons coal worth Rs 6 billion since its reactivation in 2007. Chamalang coalmines located 70 KM south east of Lorali, have proven deposits of approximately 500 m tons worth Rs 2000 billion.

The deposits were discovered in 1973 but excavation could not start till 2006 due to ownership dispute between Marri tribe (Baloch) Luni ( Pushtoon). The tripartite agreement was signed in 2006 between Marris, Lunis, contractor and government of Balochistan through active facilitation of the army.

At present 800 army personnel, 250 Frontier Corps, 450 Balochistan constabulary, 50 Kohlu Police and 2005 personnel of Chamalang Levies all from Marri tribes were employed for security of the project.

The project is largest revenue generation project after Saindak and Chaghi marble mines. Chamalang project overall employs 73926 people that include coal mining labours, contractors, chamalang levies. 

Total monthly pay of 2005 levies is Rs 14 million and each individual getting salary of Rs 6500-8000. The army has launched number of social sector development projects that include Chamalang beneficiary health program (CBHP) and Chamalang Balochistan Education Programme (CBEP). In CBHP five doctors and paramedics staff were employed and nine free medical camps were held in quarterly basis and over patients 47000 patients were treated so far.

Besides, army has constructed four labour colonies( 220 Barracks) and provision of other civic amenities completed by government of Balochistan. Army is also running 25 beded hospital on adhoc basis and giving free of cost treatment to local people.

Under CBEP programme over 4183 Baloch students were being sponsored-692 outside Balochsitan including 15 girls. 

The yearly expenditure on the programme is Rs. 73.38 million and hostel accommodation is being provided to 100 students in Quetta and 40 in Zhob. The future progamme includes expansion of road towards adjoining areas of Lunda, Noesham an Behlol and opening up of alternate route (Lunda-Qilla Walayat -Barkhan-Rahhni) for coal transportation. The project of constructing tow coal powered electricity generation plants (100-150 MW) using chamalang coal by government of Punjab , private sector at DG Khan and Rahim Yar Khan are also on card.


Balochistan Diary: Chamalang project: bury the past, buy the future
By Saeed Minhas
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
(Look out for my comments in Red)
Chamalang has many historic projections. This area was the scene of a major battlefield between tribal guerrillas and the army in September 1974. Tribal chiefs thought they would be able to crush the army onslaught by gathering their reserves in the rugged mountains of Chamalang. But equipped with traditional warfare skills and lesser arms, the Pakistan Army managed to teach the tribals a lesson.

Survivors of the six-day war that crushed more than 12,000 tribal women, children and guerrillas – mostly Marris, but also Lunis, Mengals and others – later fled to Afghanistan and were allowed to return only after getting a clean chit from state actors and state agencies in the 1990s.

The Marris, who reached an agreement with the army and the Lunis in December 2009 for resuming the Chamalang coalmines, are considered a breakaway faction of the main Marri tribes and are facing pressure from within their tribe to cut their ties with the army. But, so far, they are happy and are handling these pressures as long as the army stays there and they get their share of the “treasure” from the mines.

The presence of huge coal reserves was first discovered by the adventurous British Army in 1885, when they used to stop over, either on their way to attack Afghanistan or after sustaining repeated defeats in the Afghan lands – when the great game concept surfaced for the first time to block the Red Army from reaching the warm waters.
The Chamalang reserves, however, remained untapped until the 1980s when work started to extract “black gold” from these white mountains, but after the initial excavations, tribal rivalry halted it. Fighting between the Lunis (Pashtuns) and the Marris (Baloch) claimed 53 lives, as the Marris, being the owners of the land and the Lunis being peasants, developed differences over the ownership and profit sharing. The project remained shut for over 30 years.

In the post-Bugti scenario, when the army, along with the strong presence of the Frontier Constabulary had to enforce Musharraf’s iron-fist policy, they were approached by the locals to explore this ready-to-be-tapped project, and eventually they pushed the rivals to forget the past and cash the future. Finally, in December 2006, a tripartite agreement under the army’s supervision was reached in Quetta and the project started production again in early 2007, thus allowing economic activity in the area.

Since the beginning of 2007, more than two million metric tonnes of coal has been extracted from the Chamalang coalmines (worth over Rs 8.5 billion) and more than 70,000 people are employed for the project. 

According to the agreement, the army gets Rs 475 per metric tonne for carrying out various development works and social sector initiatives such as free education, technical education and health dispensaries. The Marris, being the owners of the lands, get Rs 420 per metric tonne, out of which they have had to spend Rs 220 in the name of security and social development to maintain the presence of the army, FC and Balochistan Levies and pay for their 200 tribal Levies personnel. The Lunis get Rs 275 per metric tonne for being stakeholders and inhabitants of the land. Other shareholders in this project are the federal government, which collects Rs 100 per metric tonne as GST, the Balochistan government gets Rs 60 in the name of royalty and Rs 5 as excise duty.

The average sale price of coal per metric tonne is around Rs 4,000 to 5,000. Local officials don’t have consolidated figures, but some of them said roughly the Pakistan Army, including the FC, has collected around Rs 900 million since 2007 (out of which around Rs 73.38 million (annually) is spent on free education (CBEP), some on technical education and the rest on reconstruction/rehabilitation). The Marris have so far collected around Rs 800 million (out of which Rs 420 million has been paid for various security services and social programmes under the army). The Lunis seem to have fetched around Rs 500 million, the federal government Rs 220 million and the provincial government Rs 140 million, and the provincial government, in the form of EOBI, has so far collected another Rs 350 million from around 50,000 labourers in the mines’ area.

Locals, according to the officials, are hardly interested in working in the mines, they would rather like to fill all the administrative jobs to get easy money.

With an unplanned town already in place and catering to the daily needs of over 70,000 people, there are hardly any civic amenities available there. Due to mining activities, the water level has further fallen in the area and the availability of drinking water is likely to remain an issue. Electricity poles have been erected, but the availability of power remains an issue. (To cater for the acute shortage of water in the area, even before the restart of mining activity Tube Wells have been installed. Moreover, the area has been provided with electricity but here too, the menace of load shedding remains an issue).

Health facilities for the namesake are available, but neither the provincial nor the federal government has any data available on the health or working condition of the labourers working in these mines. So far nine deaths have taken place, while the provincial government’s local mining inspector informed the media that five doctors-cum-paramedics (read paramedics) have been employed for the project, who were not seen throughout the visit. Nevertheless, an official briefing from the mining inspector revealed that they have treated 47,000 patients since 2007, but again no record was available to substantiate the claim. (they should have checked Army’s records).

An official briefing and an aerial view, however, revealed that four labour colonies for 220 families have almost been completed and would soon be allotted to the labourers, but how that will be done, none of the officials knew. Locals feared that the chiefs would recommend them mostly for the Levies – belonging to the Marri tribes – and the rest will go to some supervisors and government officials.

Interestingly, this new developing city is a typical immigrants’ den where they are settled without families, and hence no female is seen in the entire town. Local Marris and Lunis live in nearby greener pastures and the two towns are not allowed to mingle due to traditional reasons.

Continued.... (More details soon)
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