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Balochistan govt has a say in Reko Diq project: SC

ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the Balochistan government was the competent authority to decide
Published May 24, 2011
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scISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the Balochistan government was the competent authority to decide the issue of renewal of agreement signed for exploring gold and copper deposits worth billion of rupees of Reko Diq in Chagai district.

The three-member bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani took up constitutional petitions moved against the leasing contract.

The bench during the course of proceedings observed that the leasing licence granted to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) had already expired on February 19 and the provincial government was the competent authority to decide its future.

The Chief Justice said that objections to this agreement were premature.

He told Tariq Asad advocate, a petitioner, that he had not challenged the Mining Rules like another appellant Maulana Abdul Haq Baloch.

The bench rejected the petitioner's request to amend his petition.

Tariq Asad advocate claimed that the provincial cabinet on December 24, 2009 had decided that TCC would not get the extension licence.

Justice Muhammad Sair Ali told him that the apex Court was hearing the constitutional issues arising out of the agreement but it was the provincial government that could decide the mining question and the Court would not interfere into it.

The TCC would be free to approach any forum after the provincial government's decision, he added.

Responding to a query of the bench, Advocate General Amanullah Kinrani and Ahmer Bilal Sufi, counsel for the provincial government, said that they were waiting for the apex Court's verdict.

However, they would contact the concerned quarters and apprise the bench on Wednesday over their stance on the issue, they added.

The Chief Justice told Kinrani to also inform them about the renewal of licencing applications and the competent authority who could decide them.

The bench put off hearing till Wednesday due to non-availability of certain counsel.

The bench is hearing of a number of identical pleas filed by Tariq Asad Advocate, Barrister Zafrullah of Pakistan Watan Party, 26 senators, Sangrani tribe and others against award of mining and exploration contract to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a Canadian consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals, for exploring gold and copper in Reko Diq, in Chagai District of Balochistan.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2011

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