Peshawar: The Peshawar High Court ordered the mining department to put an immediate stop to mining and stone crushing near ancient sites in the province on Thursday, and threatened non-compliant officers with criminal charges.

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During a hearing into the matter, a bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim delegated director (archaeology and museums) Dr Abdul Samad as the focal person for checking compliance with the orders and directed him to submit a report by Dec 15 after visiting the Tarali heritage site in Mardan, the Rani Gatt area in Buner, and archaeological sites in Barikot and other areas.

The Chief Justice expressed concern about the operation of stone crushing units near archaeological sites in the province, and warned that if those activities did not cease, the court would order the registration of first information reports against the officers involved in order to pursue legal action.

The court also ordered the appropriate district deputy commissioners to monitor mining and crushing near the affected areas.

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It enquired of relevant department employees whether the country was established for the purpose of erecting stone crushing plants near heritage monuments. A few weeks ago, the chief judge took notice of the situation and summoned the appropriate officers to hear their side of the storey.

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