PESHAWAR, June 25: Most of the resource exploration ventures, including the Thar coal project, failed to deliver as geologists were not engaged in the process, according to Professor Asif Khan, director of National Centre of Excellence in Geology, University of Peshawar.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the two-day ‘International Conference on Earth Sciences’ on the University of Peshawar’s Bara Gali summer campus the other day, Professor Asif said geologists were the people, who knew the nature, depth and actual potential of natural reserves and therefore, the government should benefit from their talents, knowledge and expertise for the optimum exploration of resources.
He said his centre recently began working with the US Department of Agriculture over irrigation and mitigation of land degradation in DI Khan region.
Professor Asif said the conference was organised to bring geologists and earth scientists from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands together for discussing exploration of natural resources for their best utilisation and meeting electricity shortage.
Wapda general manager Rashid Ali Khan said water was the cheapest source of power generation but no tangible step was taken to build dams between 1975 and 2000.
He said huge sediments had reduced the water holding capacity of the country’s three largest dams from 18 million acre feet to 12 million acre feet and therefore, more water reservoirs should be built without delay.
Mr Rashid said Wapda would soon begin work on Diamer Bhasha Dam, while construction of Gomal Zam Dam would be completed by the end of the current year adding 17.4MW electricity to the system.
Former UoP vice chancellor Qasim Jan said exploration of natural resources had been the key factor for bringing out industrial revolution in Europe.
He said currently, 2,500 geologists worked in the practical field but their role in research and development was often being ignored.
Other speakers declared the role of geologists vital for natural resource exploration in the country, saying it would promote competition and a stable fiscal regime.
According to them, Pakistan’s coal reserves are the fifth largest in the world for totaling 185 billion tons and covering around 9,000 square kilometres but only 11 million tones of them are being used.
Some experts said the world produced 41 per cent of the total electricity from coal but in Pakistan, the share of coal in electricity production was almost zero despite its abundant reserves.
They said Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were endowed with 5,300 million tons of copper, 47 million ounces of gold and 806 million tons of iron but ironically, the country imported iron from Australia.
An expert said: “our raw deposit contains 40 per cent iron against the standard percentage of 60 per cent. The required iron percentage can easily be achieved by modern material practices with manageable cost.”
Experts said mega hydel reservoirs like Tarbela, Mangla and Warsak produced electricity at 60 paisa per unit that included the cost of production, labour and loans.
They said though medium to small hydel projects, including Ghazi Barotha, were producing electricity at one rupee per unit, the cost of electricity charged from consumers was far higher to the misery of poor people.
The conference was jointly organised by National Centre of Excellence in Geology, Department of Geology UoP with the sponsorship of HEC, Pakistan Petroleum, Pakistan Science Foundation, Pakistan Academy of Sciences and Weatherford.