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Punjab provincial government to provide health, education and residential facilities to mine, quarry workers

KHEWRA (Pind Dadan Khan), June 24: The Punjab government will soon provide health, education and residential facilities to the mine and gypsum quarry workers in the province, said Chief Inspector of Mines Punjab Raja Tehzib-ul-Hassan Ansari while responding to the demands raised by mine and gypsum quarry workers at a convention organised by Mine and Gypsum Quarry Workers Union supported by  ActionAid Pakistan and its local partner Anjuman Rafah-i-Aama.

A medical camp will be set up in Khewra next week to register the workers for dispensation of health facilities, said he while adding that a dispensary will be set up in Dhok Sakhi Khan. Besides, forms will be distributed to provide education scholarship for the workers’ children. The scholarships will be provided from Workers Welfare Fund. As the EOBI is going to become a provincial subject from 1st July, the Punjab government was taking steps to register the workers for EOBI.

 

He also announced establishment of a residential colony for the mine and gypsum quarry workers in Khewra. The workers colony will have all the facilities including water supply, gas, electricity, school, hospital and mosque. The matter has been discussed in details with  Pakistan Minerals Development Corporation (PMDC) and 100 kanals of land will be acquired for this purpose. The work on workers colony will start once the land is acquired, he said.

 Raja Asad Afzal, a local MNA, promised to keep raising the issues of mine workers at the floor of nation assembly until realization of the rights promised under the constitution and law.  

The representative of the mine and gypsum quarry workers who demanded a comprehensive package of social protection and immediate registration of all mine and quarry workers welcomed the provincial government decisions.

They condemned the government for being apathetic to various kinds of exploitation the un-registered mine and gypsum quarry workers were subjected to by the owners in Salt Rage. They asked the government to ensure payment of minimum wages, old age benefits, life insurance, marriage and death grants, safety kits, and pension facilities to all registered and un-registered workers.

 The representatives of trade unions and civil society organizations from Lahore and Islamabad underlined the need for unity among the workers and building strong linkages with other organizations struggling for workers rights in different parts of the country. The representatives of mine workers from Khushab, Buner and Swabi districts appreciated the struggle of local workers and assured them of their full support.

Editors' notes

The Salt Range—spanned over 120 miles from Jalapur (district Jhelum) to Kala Bagh (district Minawali)—is rich in mineral resources, including salt, coal, gypsum, lime stone, fiber-clay, sandstone, chromites and bentonite.  The main centre of mining is at Khewra where the world ‘rock-salt deposits are found. Khewra salt mines are 190km away from Rawalpindi /Islamabad and 260kms from Lahore in Tehsil Pind Dadan Khan, distrist jehlum. Khewara salt mines are the second largest rock salt mines in the world with estimated total of 220 million tons of rock salt deposits. Today, Kewara salt mines produce around 325,000 tons salt per annum.