The Supreme Court on Friday directed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to provide the record of an airstrip approved for Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) in the vicinity of Reko Diq. A three-judge apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, resumed the hearing of Reko Diq case.
Resuming his arguments, Advocate-General Balochistan Amanullah Kanrani contended that BHP Billiton failed to begin mining from 1996 to 2002, hence it lost its right of mining lease as per Balochistan Mining Concession Rules, 1970. He said since the BHP Billiton had lost its right on prospecting licence, seized to exist on default ground therefore TCC”s claim was premature to seek grant of exploration licence of EL 5 on a bounced document.
He told the bench that a total of 880 square kilometers airstrip was approved for TCC. To which, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed remarked: “How a foreign company was given approval to have such a huge chunk of land for an airstrip in Pakistan?” During the course of proceedings, Ahmer Bilal Sufi, the counsel for Balochistan government, contended that approving a huge land to a foreign company for an airstrip was beyond apprehension, which clearly indicates that TCC wanted to retain its monopoly over the deposit.
By delaying the process of mining lease in Reko Diq and seeking several extensions for exploring minerals, the prosperity of people of Balochistan has been put at stake for about 20 years, according to him. Sufi added that foreign companies had retained monopoly over exploration and did not allow any third party to explore the area. The bench adjourned the hearing of case till December 10.