MITHI: Mining in Thar's 9,600 kilometre coal fields are gaining momentum after the arrival of experts from China.
After the arrival of China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), work on two blocks and particularly on Block II has picked up pace.
Farhan Ahmed Ansari from Engro told Dawn.com that the arrival of Chinese engineers and technical staff has accelerated the pace of work on Block II. "More and more experts are arriving every day," he added.
Almost 3,000 technicians and engineers are expected to arrive on site to help locals in running the heavy machinery and developing open-pit mining.
Ansari said that over 80 per cent of landowners have been monetarily compensated for the lands aquired by Engro and the Thar Coal Authority.
The project's first phase involves the relocation of villagers from Sahri Dars and Tharyo Halepoto in Islamkot taluka. In order to evacuate the site chosen for open pit mining completely, villagers will we rehabilitated to nearby locations. Ansari claimed they will be provided with modern facilities, and given housing and employment.
Meanwhile, high school students are being trained in operational areas so they can be gainfully employed in the mega-project later.
The villagers of Sahri Dars and Tharyo Halepoto said they would resist if the commitments and promises made to them were not fulfilled. About 4,000 people are set to be relocated after their model houses are built.
An official from Thar Coal Mining Authority said that all preparations have been made for the inauguration of the country's mega-project, which comprises of 12 blocks on over 9,000 square km of Tharparkar district. Buried under this land lies an estimated 175 billion tones of coal.
Partab Shivani, a local activist in Mithi, hopes that the mega project brings prosperity to the backward region. He urges concerned authorities to keep their promises and feels that steps should be taken to ensure the environment, ecology, demography of the area.