THAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari Friday jointly performed ground-breaking of the US 1.6 billion dollar Thar coal power project to help the country meet its energy needs.
The project, scheduled to complete in 2017, will initially provide 660 MW of power for Pakistan's energy starved industrial units.
The project will be carried out by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) — a joint venture between Engro Powergen and Government of Sindh.
Prime Minister Sharif, in his address, said the launch of the project along with Zardari, had sent a message across that the political leadership should be united when it comes to the development of the country.
He said this political trend must be set in Pakistan now and the leaders need to think about the country first regardless of their differences.
He thanked Zardari for inviting him to the ground-breaking of the project and said it was a matter of satisfaction that “we all are together and have the same priorities”.
Prime Minister Sharif termed the Thar coal project a big national development project and suggested that the coal for all projects in Gaddani should be supplied from Thar.
He said the government was working on several power generation projects including hydel and nuclear generation.
The prime minister also said the recently launched nuclear power project in Karachi would generate 2200 MW, while the Dasu, Diamir and Bunji dams on Indus River would generate 15000 MW electricity. He said the Thar coal project would eventually produce 6600 MW of power.
The prime minister said three power projects would complete in 2017, including the Jhimpir Wind Power project in Thatta, CASA 1000 and Tarbela Dam upgradation.
He said efforts were afoot to import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and pledged that in a year and a half, the country’s gas shortage problem would be addressed.
Prime Minister Sharif said the project will usher in an era of prosperity and development for the people of Tharparkar.
He also seconded former president Zardari’s suggestion for setting up an industrial park in Thar that would generate employment for the people. He said the federal government would contribute in its development.
Zardari said the day's event would convey a message to the next generations of the country that the politicians need to sit together to work for the development of the country.
He said the project, initiated by Benazir Bhutto and later pursued during his government, had finally seen the light of day.
Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah said the project would bring about a big change in the lives of the people of Tharparkar, Sindh and the entire country.
He termed the coal as gold for Pakistan and said the electricity generated would be used to help run the industrial units of the country and generate employment.
The project in Block-II of Tharparkar District is spread over an area of 79.6 square kilometres. According to a feasibility study, the project is commercially viable and has no significant environmental threats and social implications.
In its first phase, the project will develop a coal mining and power project with a capacity of 3.8 million tonnes per annum and 660 MW.
Subsequently, the mine will be expanded to a coal capacity of 6.5 million tonnes per annum to support a 1300 MW power plant.
In the second phase, it is planned to expand mining project to 13.5 million tonnes and 19.5 million tonnes, with a power generation capacity of 2400 MW and 3600 MW.
The Thar coal field has an estimated lignite reserves of 175 billion tonnes, equivalent to the total oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran combined and can be used to produce 100,000 MW for 200 years, according to the data available by SECMC.