Karoonjhar Saga: Mining Profits In A 'Miracle Of God'

Karoonjhar Saga: Mining Profits In A 'Miracle Of God'
Deep in the Tharparkar district, on the edge of the scenic border region of Nagarparkar, lie the Karoonjhar Mountains. The local community revered the small range of 'mountains', especially those of the Hindu faith, for their spiritual significance.

But the locals have had to watch on helplessly for years as those seeking a quick profit dove into the pinkish hues of its rocks to extract the granite underneath.

But when the government recently announced to auction off of some 6,000 acres in the region to do just that, it seemed to trigger not just residents of Tharparkar but people who revere the historic mountains across the province to unite against the government-sanctioned vandalism of what many believe should be a heritage site.

What happened?

On July 20, an advertisement appeared in newspapers inviting bids in auctioning some 17 slots covering around 5,928 acres in the Karoonjhar Mountains near Nagarparkar. Per the reserve prices for the auction listed in the advertisement, it appeared that the provincial government had pencilled in immediate earnings of around Rs78 million.

The government did not expect that instead of receiving manila envelopes containing applications, they would face stiff resistance and uproar.

The government beat a hasty retreat and announced to reverse the decision to auction the mountains.

The provincial government was moved into action after MNA Mahesh Malani, from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), directly conveyed rising public anger against the auction to the chief minister.

READ MORE: Rooplo Kolhi: The Warrior Who Defied The British Empire In The Karoonjhar Mountains

Similarly, MPAs Arbab Lutfullah, Surendar Valasai, and Tharparkar Deputy Commissioner Lal Dino Mangi, wrote to the concerned authorities, urging them to withdraw the decision.

The letters argued that mining would distort the fabled natural beauty, rich culture, and history of the hills. They urged the functionaries concerned to conserve the site for its historical, religious, and cultural significance.
Sindh Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Shabbir Ali Bijarani further clarified in the provincial assembly that the Sindh government would never allow the leasing or mining of granite in Karoonjhar and Nagarparkar

Sardar Shah was the first provincial minister to announce the cancellation of the auction bid, followed by Sindh Mines and Minerals Minister Shabbir Bijarani. Eventually, the issue was put to bed after Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon completed the government's volte-face on mining the mountains.

A brief notification by the Sindh Mines and Minerals Department Director General followed on July 24, stating that the public notice inviting bids for an open auction of 17 blocks for mining granite in Karoonjhar had been cancelled.

Sindh Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Shabbir Ali Bijarani further clarified in the provincial assembly that the Sindh government would never allow the leasing or mining of granite in Karoonjhar and Nagarparkar, keeping in view the reservations of the public.

Responding to a point of order raised on the floor of the Sindh Assembly by MPA Rana Ansar and other MPAs, Bijarani said that the provincial government would not take any step against the wishes of Sindh's residents.

Bijarani clarified that no work had been carried out on leasing blocks for granite extraction since 2018. The minister added that the provincial government had also written to UNESCO to declare the Karoonjhar Mountain Range a heritage site.

READ MORE: Protests Continue Against Extraction And Environmental Destruction Around The Karoonjhar Hills

Moreover, he said that on a previous occasion, a committee had been formed to learn the public's views about Karoonjhar and mining there. Bijarani added that the committee had submitted its report to him and would subsequently be tabled before the provincial cabinet.

Separately, Tharparkar resident Advocate Shankar Lal Meghwar filed a petition in the Sindh High Court's Hyderabad bench on July 24, urging the court to halt the auction. He argued that people of his faith undertake pilgrimage to the temples located in Karoonjhar from across Pakistan and India .

It is pertinent to mention here that a Civil Judge and an Additional District Judge had already passed orders imposing a ban on the extraction and crushing of the scenic Karoonjhar Mountain.


The public had expressed widespread anger and disgruntlement on social media after tenders for granite extraction were published in newspapers. It led lawmakers from Thar and the Deputy Commissioner to write to the respective authorities, advocating that plans to mine Karoonjhar to extract granite should be abandoned.

READ MORE: Hero-stones of the Seedhal Rathore Rajputs

Residents of the Tharparkar district say that the Karoonjhar Sujag has been taking steps to preserve the mountains -- where two historic Hindu temples are located -- for a long time. They have been demanding official natural heritage site status, but the provincial government had other intentions.


Advocate Faiz Ahmed Chandio, a fervent supporter of Sindh's democratic rights, said it was an attempt to deface Sindh's natural beauty.

He added that progressive nations take measures to protect their natural and cultural heritage. Still, in Pakistan, the corrupt are willing to sell the historic lands of Karoonjhar for some profit.
They believe God blessed Sindh with Karoonjhar

Miracle of God

Hindus, who have inhabited the Tharparkar district for centuries, believe that Karoonjhar is a 'miracle of God'.

READ MORE: Jain Legacy of Nagarparkar

They believe God blessed Sindh with Karoonjhar because it has historically served as the land of mystics and pious personalities.

Drama Kohli, a local leader of the minority community, said they would protect every inch of Karoonjhar until their last breath, as they had strong emotional affiliations with the mountains.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.