MITHI: Seventy per cent work on both mining and power projects have been completed ahead of schedule and the first electron from Thar Coal Block-II will start generating power by the end of this year, according to Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) chief executive officer.

SECMC CEO Shamsuddin Shaikh informed a delegation of members of Sindh Assembly, civil society representatives, senior journalists and corporate executives who visited Thar Coal Block-II on Saturday that the power to be generated from Thar coal would be the cheapest in Pakistan.

Mr Shaikh said while briefing the delegation on the progress achieved so far in the mining and the power plant construction that they were just 20 meters away from the first steam coal to supply coal to 660MW mine-mouth power plant.

SECMC, a joint venture between Sindh government and Engro Powergen Ltd, was all set to start generating power to supply to the national grid from early next year, he said.

About the community development projects undertaken by the SECMC’s Thar Foundation, he said that different schemes in education, healthcare, safe drinking water, women empowerment and skill development had been initiated at a total cost of Rs4.5 billion.

Engro Powergen Limited CEO Ahsan Zafar Syed briefed the delegation about the power plant and said that imported technology was being used to protect local environment. The power plant would hopefully complete six months ahead of schedule, he said.

Senator Taj Haider of PPP said: “We are now very close to achieving success, the foundation of which was laid by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.” Thar coal project would make paradigm shift in the economy of Sindh but all its benefits should go first to the people of Thar and then to others, he said.

Pak Sarzameen Party head Mustafa Kamal said that Thar coal project was a model project which was bringing positive change to locals’ life. “Another positive change we have witnessed here is that the corporate sector is giving people priority over profit, which is seldom seen anywhere,” he added.

Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi said that the Thar coal project was among the few success stories of the government but she added at the same time that the government needed to put in more efforts to exploit the coal reserves in the rest of the blocks as well for the prosperity of Thar, Sindh and the entire Pakistan.

MQM-Pakistan MPA Heer Soho said that social uplift schemes initiated by Thar Foundation would improve human development in the area. Thar coal would not only meet the country’s energy needs but it had also triggered economic activity on a massive scale in the area, which would surely have positive impact on locals’ life, she said.

MPAs Naheed Begum, Naila Munir, Naheed Shaukat Mirza, Karachi Arts Council president Ahmed Shah, BISP secretary Saleem Ranjha and senior journalists were also part of the delegation.

The delegation also visited the mining project, power plant, biosaline agriculture initiatives, Green Thar program, resettlement village, healthcare facilities, schools and skill development centers.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2018