JAMRUD, Khyber Agency: Members of the Mullagori tribe in Khyber Agency are suffering from various diseases, particularly dental problems, owing to unsafe drinking water.
Though the marble factories in the area are profitable for the locals, these are also contaminating water in the area and causing health issues.
During a visit to the area that has been named after the Mullagori tribe living there, this correspondent found that most of people had dental problems. An elder in the area said that drinking water was the cause of the disease because it was impure due to presence of marble factories in the area.
Mullagori area houses a number of marble factories and the waste passes various places through drains. Locals say they have been asking the government to make sure the waste from the factories doesn’t flow freely in the open, but to no avail.
The Mullagori tribe lacks social development and so far there has been no book or research article to introduce it to the world. An elder said Mullagoris had migrated from Afghanistan and settled in the area that falls in Khyber Agency and is sited close to Mohmand Agency. However, there is an ongoing debate on the origin of Mullagori tribe. Some say they are the descendents of Mohmand tribe since their language resembles the latter. Others say Mullagoris are a sub-tribe of Shinwari while some say they are a separate tribe of Pakhtuns.
Unlike several other tribal areas, the Mullagori area is poppy-free and its residents usually depend on the marble deposits found in the hills. There are around 100 marble factories that are a source of livelihood for the Mullagori tribesmen and the residents of nearby villages that fall in the settled district of Peshawar.
The area consists of two major parts – the Khakata Mena (lower area) and Lowarha Mena (upper area). The ‘Tatara’ hill, a tourist resort, separates the Mullagori tribepeople from the Afridis, while the river Kabul serves as the boundary from the Mohmand tribe.
The Mullagori tribe, however, is lagging behind in education and health facilities. “People have been suffering health problems but authorities have not even tested drinking water in the area to confirm that it is the contaminated water that is the problem,” stated Waleed, a Mullagori tribesman.
A retired subedar of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, Sabz Ali, said the Lowara Mena of Mullagori area does not have the water contamination problem. “There are marble factories, which release waste in the open, thus causing water pollution in the Khakata Mena,” he added.
Medical Superintendent of the Jamrud Hospital, Dr Samin, said they had received reports about the dental problems among the members of the Mullagori tribe last year.
“We asked the locals to send us samples of drinking water but we have not received any so far,” he added. He said the area falls under the domain of Khyber Agency’s agency surgeon. The agency surgeon could not be reached for comments.