MITHI: In a demonstration of political will to work together for the cause of national development, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari jointly performed the ground-breaking of a coal project in Islamkot, near Thar Coal Block-II on Friday.

An important part of the project is a 660MW coal-based power plant which is expected to be completed in 2017 at a cost of $1.60 billion.

The prime minister said the federal government would help Sindh in exploring and extracting coal and setting up the power plant. It will give a boost to national economy and play an important role in efforts to overcome the energy crisis. It will open doors of employment for local people and put the backward district of Tharparkar on the path of progress and development.

The project will be executed by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a joint venture of the government of Sindh and Engro Powergen.

According Mr Sharif the traditional Sindhi welcome with “Bhali karay aaya”, Mr Zardari said he and his party had been supporting the government for the sake of national progress.

PROTEST: Scores of people of Tharaio Halepoto, Seenhri Daras and other villages blocked for more than three hours an area not far from the place where a helicopter carrying the prime minister and Mr Zardari had landed.

They burnt bushes and shouted “Thar Coal Project Namanzur”. They were calling for adequate compensation of land being used for the project and a proper resettlement policy for people who would be displaced.

APP adds: The prime minister said at the ceremony that the joint launching of the project conveyed a message that the political leadership should be united when it came to development of the country.

He termed the Thar coal a major national development project and suggested that coal for the proposed Gadani power park should be supplied from Thar.

The prime minister endorsed Mr Zardari’s suggestion about an industrial park in Thar and said the federal government would contribute in its development.

Referring to the Youth Business Loan Scheme, he said Sindh’s quota in the scheme on the basis of population would be ensured and there would be no provincial discrimination.

Mr Zardari said the project conceived by the Benazir Bhutto government and initiated during his government had finally seen the light of the day.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the project would bring about a change in the lives of the people of Tharparkar, Sindh and the country.

Briefing the prime minister, Chief Executive Officer of Engro Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, said Thar coalfield block-II spread over 100 square kilometers was estimated to have around two billion tons of coal.

Initially, the project will generate 660MW but with the completion of other phases the capacity will increase to 5,000MW.

Responding to a question, he said India was already using coal reserves in its deserts but Pakistan was new to the field.

Prime Minister Sharif was also briefed on development projects launched by the Sindh government in Tharparkar district.

Thar Coal Energy Board Secretary Agha Wasif said that 80 per cent work on Thar’s airport had been completed and the project would be completed by June at a cost of Rs972 million.

The provincial government had launched social and environmental studies relating to Thar coalfield, air quality assessment, designing of resettlement and land use plan.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, Acting Governor of Sindh Agha Siraj Durrani, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Sindh’s Senior/Education Minister Nisar Khuhro, Information Minister Sharjil Inam Memon, Minister for Zakat and Ushr Doust Ali Rahimoon and Chairman of Engro Pakistan Hussain Daud attended the ceremony.

The Block-II Thar coalfield project, according to a feasibility study, is commercially viable with no significant environmental threats and social implications.

In the phase I, the project envisages mining of 3.8 million tons of coal per year and power generation of 660MW.

Subsequently, the mine will be expanded to the annual capacity of 6.5 million tons to support a 1,300MW power plant.

In phase II, the mining project is planned to be expanded to 19.5 million tons with a power generation capacity of 3600MW.

The Thar coalfield has estimated lignite reserves of 175 billion tons, energy equivalent to combined oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and can be used to produce 100,000MW for 200 years, according to the data available with the SECMC.

Opinion

The sixth wave

The sixth wave

PCR testing has drastically gone down in Pakistan and our disease surveillance system needs much more strengthening.

Editorial

Udaipur killing
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Udaipur killing

The crime committed in Udaipur did not happen in a vacuum.
Unacceptable demand
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Unacceptable demand

Negotiating with extremists is tricky; no peace treaty with them has lasted beyond a few months.
Tough times ahead
01 Jul, 2022

Tough times ahead

THE finance ministry’s projection of 15pc inflation, much higher than the targeted rate of 11.5pc, during the new...
More ‘prior actions’
Updated 30 Jun, 2022

More ‘prior actions’

It is crucial that the IMF reconsiders its stance and releases the funds at the earliest to calm uneasy markets.
Growing power crisis
30 Jun, 2022

Growing power crisis

THE country’s escalating power crisis risks exacerbating the law-and-order situation as people take to the streets...
Attack on polio team
30 Jun, 2022

Attack on polio team

THE threat of deadly violence never seems to diminish for health workers and police officials involved in...