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KARACHI: Pakistan is likely to start exporting coal to India shortly under the Indo-Pakistan Trade Agreement. Coal was put on the list of exportable items from Pakistan when the Agreement was extended till March 21, 1963, in December last.

Traders are already making inquiries from the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which has now an area of 32,213.48 acres on lease from the government for coal-mining. Their estimated reserves total 37.64 million tons and the leases, when fully developed, would yield 3,800 tons of coal per day.

On the face of it, the decision to export coal might sound surprising as Pakistan is, at present, producing only about 8 lakh tons annually as against the estimated consumption of 20 lakh tons.This consumption includes railway requirements.

But the Pakistan coal, like the coal in Greece and some other countries, is powdery and can best be utilised in the manufacture of briquette.

Efforts are being made to upgrade the quality of Pakistan coal through scientific treatment. Till Pakistan coal improves its quality and its outputexceedsits present use in the country, its exports would seem justified.

That the coal exporters, attracted by a 20 per cent bonus, will not operate at the cost of internal consumers has been indirectly assured by a Government order in October last. The order precludes industrial consumers in the country from using imported coal if they can operate with the indigenous coal.