(MENAFN- Pajhwok Afghan News) JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Illegal excavation of gemstones from nearly 400 mines has been underway in eastern Nuristan province, with half of the revenue going to militants, officials and public representatives say.
Local officials acknowledge the illegal mining at nearly 400 deposits near Paroon, the provincial capital, and some districts of Nuristan.
The provincial council (PC) claims 50 percent of the revenue generated from gemstones ends up in pockets of rebel groups.
According to the Nuristan Mining Department, illegal digging of gemstones, including ruby and emerald, is underway at 370 sites without a penny being paid to the government. At some sites, gemstones worth three million afghanis have been discovered.
Eng. Saadullah Painda, the PC head, said half of the revenue from gemstone mines directly went to armed rebels who purchased weapons to fight the government forces. He said only one natural reservoir of gemstones was legally exploited in Nuristan.
Common people also expressed concern over the illegal mining of gemstones and said the excavation was happening very close to government posts.
Deputy Governor Mohammad Hashim Faizi said five districts of Nuristan faced high security risks, making it hard to control mines there.
He said the excavated gemstones were smuggled outside the government and the government was unable to prevent it.
Earlier, a Trade Union of Gemstones have expressed concern over the increasing illegal excavation of gemstones in eastern parts of the country and said most of thr gemstones were smuggled to Pakistan.
Police Chief Brig. Gen. Ghulam Muhiuddin Noori also acknowledged militants took full advantage of gemstones in the province.
Most of these mines are situated in insecure areas and militants smuggle them via routes which are not in government control.
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