A paper on the impact of mining in Pakistan is a welcome change from the normal. It appears that quarry operations to supply Islamabad are affecting the aesthetics of a range of hills. In a paper worth downloading and reading if only for the shear originality thereof I recommend The Effect of Mining on Geomorphology (Detection of changes by using remote sensing techniques) by Nawaz, Hamidullah, and Fayaz.

I quote and edit slightly: “For the last 30 years, since the capital city [Islamabad] came into being, the Margalla Hills have supplied limestone for construction of buildings, roads, and bridges. Geologically, the rocks in the area range from Jurassic to Paleocene and are of sedimentary origin, mainly sandstone and shale. That is the reason that the beautiful and green Margalla hills are being eaten up by limestone mining and crushing which in addition to destruction of the natural landscape is causing large scale environmental degradation and air pollution. The available aerial photographs show the situation before mining, during the mid of mining, and now the latest situation. Visual and digital interpretation of the available images together with GIS techniques will lead us to conclude and recommend certain concrete steps to stop mining and proposed certain other sites for mining.”

Certainly the photographs in the paper support the authors’ case and contentions. No information is given of the economic impact of closing the current quarries and opening new quarries located by the authors. Seems like a hard choice that will probably involve more study and politics.