Home / Editorial / The plight of mine workers, and illegal mining

The plight of mine workers, and illegal mining

A civil society group released a report regarding the extreme conditions and illegal labor practices, rife in the mining sector across the country. The report is based on surveys conducted at sixty mines across Afghanistan. The most pressing challenges are child labor, low wages, abusive management practices, and absence of safety equipment, lack of food and water supplies and danger of toxic gases suffocations. The post-2001 years unfolded opportunities in almost all sectors, such as education, health, infrastructure, telecommunication, transportation, however mining sector still remains poorly organized where there corruption is endemic. The government has been playing ‘a wait and see’ policy as if it is someone else’s job to fix the problems of this sector. Illegal mining is all time high. Some powerful individuals have been busy in the plunder natural resources. Unfortunately, no major crackdown has been seen so far. Soon after forming the government, President Ashraf Ghani, made headlines for resuming investigation into the Kabul Bank scam, however, what is the thing that is holding him back from clamping down on illegal mining and the plunder of natural resources?

Officials in northeastern Badakhshan province say that powerful individuals continue the illegal extraction of the tourmaline mines. This illegal sordid boon has been causing loss of millions of Afghanis to our national exchequer. It is said these powerful individuals have support of insurgent Taliban and some bigwigs from the government. All this is happening in broad day light under the very nose of the government. When silence means consent, therefore the silence of the government over the illegal mining is a criminal inertia.

In a country where coordination among the government, legislature and judiciary is scarce, illegal mining, kidnappings for ransom, insecurity, illiteracy, poverty, and corruption will definitely unfold to make the collective life of the general public like a hellhole. If rule of law and accountability are not heightened, the loot and plunder in the extractive industries will go on where no one could help reduce the looting of high-value natural resources. The countries, hit by security challenges, poor governance, misuse of national wealth, corruption, kidnaps and unemployment, are somehow struggling against all these evils. However, here, one easily gets away with all these issues simply by raising his fingers at foreign elements and insurgency. These two evils don’t make you absolved rather one must fight with all his powers. In the land we live in, people consider national wealth their personal wealth as if they have received it in inheritance from their fathers and forefathers. There is no fear of law. And the reason is the selective implementation of the law. Since the government has been grappling with militancy, it must try to destroy the financial lifelines of the Taliban. Illegal mining is one among them. If militants are kept out of the income they earn from illegal mining and poppy cultivation, within one month, the nation will witness militancy reduced sizably. But the opposite is happening. They are thriving on drug money, illegal mining, funds from regional and international spy agencies, and the victim is this poor nation, which has been bearing the brunt of the war since 80s. The government will have to take some biggest decision to see the nation liberated, as it has been taken hostage.

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