QUETTA: The federal government has decided to establish a new oil refinery on the land allotted for the 6,600-megawatt coal-based Gadani Power Park Project.
According to Prime Minister’s Office directives available with Dawn, the premier has directed that the land earlier earmarked for the power project be allotted to Pakistan Arab Refinery Company (Parco) for building up the Khalifa Coastal Refinery (KCR).
According to sources quoting an official letter issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has observed that the allocation of land to Pakistan Power Park Management Company Ltd (PPPMCL) for the Gadani project is no longer required as it has been abandoned.
It further said that Parco may go ahead with the refinery project as Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Corporation still owns the land and may allocate it for the KCR project as per requirement.
“The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has submitted clear timelines for completion of the KCR project,” the official order said, and added that the ministry would take further action accordingly.
The prime minister is expected to lay the project’s foundation in January
The prime minister has given approval for application of subject land to Parco for the refinery, which would be a joint venture of the government of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. He is also expected to lay foundation stone of the megaproject when its groundbreaking would take place in January 2017, sources said.
Sources added that the authorities concerned have directed the district management of the Lasbela district to make assessment of the land allocated for the KCR. “Around 1,811 acres have been earmarked for the project,” they claimed.
Welcoming the prime minister’s decision, a former speaker of Balochistan Assembly, Muhammad Aslam Bhootani, said the refinery would provide jobs to the local people and enhance socio-economic activities in the Lasbela district.
However, he also expressed fear that this prime land of Balochistan was again being given on a throwaway price and that some local population and their dwellings may be displaced.
He hoped the government would take measures to safeguard interests of the province and save this project from any litigation which would hamper development in the area.
“We have seen in the past that when province’s inhabitants are not protected and people’s genuine grievances are not addressed, such big investment is always challenged in the court of law,” Mr Bhootani said, and mentioned multibillion-rupee Reko Diq gold and copper project and Hubco coal power plant.
Published in Dawn November 24th, 2016