Towards exploiting Thar Coal

AT long last, coal mining and power project in Thar has finally entered its construction phase at a relatively swift pace, which would hopefully give a boost to economic activities and development in the poverty-stricken desert area. Chief of Engro Company, engaged in mining and undertaking a power project, told newsmen that the project would be completed ahead of June 2019 deadline.
That the company is serious in pursuing the project is evident from the fact that out of a total of $2b, it has already invested half a billion dollars. As Thar project is part of the CPEC, China is providing 50% of financing and the remaining are being provided by Pakistani banks and financial institutions. But all this is just tip of the iceberg as Thar coal is one of the largest deposits of the nature in the world with potential to take care of energy needs of the country for decades to come. For years we have been told that quality of the coal was not up to the mark but latest laboratory reports belie this propaganda. 175b tonnes of coal in Thar is not only sufficient to help meet our own energy requirements but we could also export it at least to India, which is importing coal for its coal-based plants from Indonesia. Thar is one of the poorest and backward regions of the country and both Federal and Sindh Governments feel financially constrained to address fundamental problems of people of the area, who are suffering from acute shortage of water, malnutrition and lack of medical and educational facilities. Large-scale economic activity in the area would help transform life of these disadvantaged people provided serious and practical steps are taken to ensure that benefits of this activity reaches the locals as well. It would be in the fitness of things if a crash programme for imparting vocational and technical skills to the youth of the area were initiated by the Sindh Government so that they could get gainful jobs.

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