MITHI: In a surprising move, the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) chief executive officer, Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, has left the company just a month before the scheduled inauguration of the power plant he worked on for eight years.

A spokesman for the company, Mohsin Babar, on Monday confirmed the news, received by most executives, officers and workers of the company as a surprising development.

Under the watch of Mr Shaikh, the company achieved almost all its goals and met the targets vis-a-vis extraction of coal, installation of two 330MW power units at Thar coal project’s block-II near Islamkot and completing the work five months ahead of schedule.

The spokesman, talking to this reporter, said that Mr Shaikh’s request for early retirement was accepted by the company’s board of directors on Monday. According to him, Mr Shaikh had submitted the application with the board one week back.

Mr Babar rejected rumours, rife in the company and across the Thar coal project sites throughout the day, that differences between Mr Shaikh and certain other executives or provincial government officials led him to quit his job.

Mr Shaikh took up his job as the firm’s CEO in 2010 and his retirement was due in 2023. Abul Fazal Rizvi, until now the chief operating officer of the company, has replaced Mr Shaikh.

Credible sources told this reporter that for the last few weeks Mr Shaikh was disturbed by the lethargic attitude of the contractors concerned in completing the water supply scheme meant for feeding the twin power plant, which he had been enthusiastically working on for years and was to be put into operation by December end.

He had repeatedly and forcefully been telling the Sindh government officials concerned to make the contractors complete their job on time but without the desired response.

The scheme was supposed to provide water to the plant from Nabisar town.

“The delay is very likely to have disappointed Mr Shaikh to the extent that he decided to quit the job as this frustrated all his efforts to put the plant into operation by December end,” the sources said.

Thar Sujag Forum comes into being

A new entity calling itself the ‘Thar Sujag Forum’ came into being when senior activists of various political parties, nationalist groups and social welfare organisations representing all seven talukas of Tharparkar gathered in Mithi on Monday and resolved to visit every nook and corner of the district to help drought-hit people with all available means.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart Mohammad Khan Loond, who is also a member of the district council, was made the organiser of the forum.

Speaking to reporters, the PPP leader observed that drought situation in Thar had assumed an alarming proportion after it deteriorated with each passing day in recent years.

“Government functionaries are not taking interest in long-term planning to ensure provision of relief to Tharis,” he said, adding that this forum comprising leaders of various political parties and social welfare organisations would strive for betterment of the region and its population and help stakeholders in overcoming the food and water crisis.

The notables said they would visit all remote areas of the district to create awareness of the issues and educate them on how to fight for their legal rights, including basic amenities.

Obhayo Junejo, Dr Oam Parkash, Kishwar Jagani, Karim Dad Junejo and others vowed to exert pressure on government functionaries to make them design and execute anti-drought schemes and take measures to mitigate Tharis’ sufferings.

Fodder distribution project

The Sindh government has launched a ‘pilot project’ to deliver a fodder package at the doorsteps of deserving livestock owners in Tharparkar, according to an official statement.

Titled ‘Thar Fodder Distribution Project’, the initiative will be jointly executed by the livestock and fisheries department and the Thar Foundation in four union councils of the district. It has set a coverage target of 20,000 households owing herds.

In this regard, the department has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Specific drought-hit areas have been identified initially for coverage and the scope of the pilot project is stated to be extendable to other areas at a later stage.

In order to ensure transparency, Thar Foundation will upload the beneficiaries’ list and distribution points on websites of the department, foundation and social media handles.

The same list would be displayed in the covered villages so that the whole community could know about the distribution.

The MoU was signed by fisheries and livestock secretary Kazi Aijaz Mahesar and Thar Foundation general manager Naseer Memon at a ceremony held at the block-II of Thar coal project.

The livestock population in Thar district is put at around 7.5 million. It is observed that livestock owners usually migrate from Thar to barrage areas in search of fodder in a drought-like situation.

The Mirpurkhas commissioner will head the District Joint Management Committee to be tasked with execution of the project.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2018

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