The Saindak Copper-Gold mines are located adjacent to Saindak town District of Chagai. The gold deposits were identified by two geologists in 1901. In 1970, the discovery of gold deposits at Saindak was made in collaboration with a Chinese engineering firm. The project was launched in 1975 but Pakistani engineers couldn’t run the project properly. Then the project faltered for some years. After that, federal government awarded the project to china. Pakistan and china signed a formal contract worth $350 million for development of Saindak Copper-Gold Project. The mine was leased for a ten year period to MCC (Metallurgical Corporation of China). As per the lease agreement, 50% of revenues from the mine goes to MCC, 48% go to the government of Pakistan, while 2% go to the government of Balochistan.
Currently, the project is being managed by some 350 Chinese and 1,400 Pakistani workforce. There is a big difference in salaries of Pakistani and Chinese people working on the project. Chinese engineers have salaries of about $1,200 per month and on the other hand, Pakistani engineer’s salary is just $200. Recruitment in the project is not on the basis of merit, rather people are appointed on the basis of favoritism and nepotism. Chinese attitude is like step-mother towards laborer and workers.
Chinese engineer’s salary is $1,200 per month and Pakistani engineer’s salary is just $200 per month.
Under international law this project should have built a university for the province, school, hospital and infrastructure for the local people. However, this project is only paying Rs. 8 million per year as scholarships to students of Chagai which are paid to relatives of influential people and not the needy students.
There are a host of problems local people of Saindak region suffer from. There is just one school for six villages, 500 students are getting education from this school. There is no girl school in Saindak, neither government nor private. There are 16 teachers with meager salaries. Teachers are not considered to be part of company; teachers are not given bonus, water allowances, health allowances and home rent etc. Furthermore, the high schools lack facilities like science room, furniture and boundary wall.
On 16th October 2014, divisional director for education Yahya Khan Mengal visited Saindak Project School. After that he met the Chinese Managing Director (MD) regarding school issues. He vehemently emphasized for increment in the salaries of school teachers. He asked Chinese MD to increase the teacher’s salary up to 100,000 per month, given the remoteness of the area. Moreover, Yahya Khan Mengal promised to make the Saindak project school a semi-government school, but this promise was never made good.
Moreover, quality of drinking water is a big problem for the employees. The water supplied to employees causes many problems like, high blood pressure, obesity, stress, kidneys, laziness, stomach and heart stroke. Recently two employees died of heart attack, but the project didn’t provide ambulances to the victims. In addition, local people are deprived of basic necessities of their life like water, electricity and nutrition. Even the local employees are not given curry and bread from project mess.
Two employees suffered from heart attacks but the project didn’t provide them with ambulance.
Unluckily, media the mirror of a society neither gave coverage nor highlighted the plethora of problems in Saindak project. They are turning a blind eye to such a marginalized area. We humbly request to the Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan to visit Saindak project to have first hand idea of the deplorable conditions there. There is immediate need of attention and action on the miserable conditions of people in Saindak project.
Published in The Balochistan Point on September 20, 2015
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.