KARACHI: A new era of development is set to dawn on the underdeveloped interior Sindh, specially Tharparkar, as inclusion of Thar Coal mining and power project in the prioritised energy schemes under the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will help overcome financial challenges being faced by it.
This venture will open not only unprecedented economic opportunities but also prove to be a panacea for energy shortages that are stifling economic growth.
The exploitation of coal and power generation by coal-fired plants and related industries, according to some estimates, will generate thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled workforce.
The financial and technical assistance by China for exploiting the coal reserves, which are estimated at about 175 billion tonnes and spread over 9,000 square kilometers in the Thar desert, will mark a turning point for the economy and help ensure energy security and ultimately lead to self-reliance.
The Sino-Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL) and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) are working on Block I & II of Thar Coal mining and power generation, as these energy projects have been included among the Early Harvest Projects of the CPEC making way for swift financing from Chinese financial institutions.
The SSRL has recently reached an agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) for funding for the mining operations. Large-scale mining at Thar coalfield is likely to begin next month, according to media reports quoting the SSRL Chief Executive Officer.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari jointly performed ground-breaking of the Thar Coal power project last year. It was decided that in its first phase, a coal mining and power project with a capacity of 3.8 million tonnes per annum and 660 MW would be developed. Subsequently, the mine would be expanded to a coal capacity of 6.5 million tonnes per annum to support a 1300 MW power plant.In the second phase, it was planned to expand the mining project to 13.5 million tonnes and then to 19.5 million tonnes, with power generation capacity of 2400 MW and 3600 MW.
Talking to APP, Khurram Saeed, former vice chairman of FPCCI's Committee on Alternative Energy, said that the inclusion of Thar Coal project in CPEC had solved funding issues and accelerated pace of work on it.
He expressed the confidence that the implementation of this project would boost economic activities and ensure availability of cheap electricity, besides creating employment opportunities.- APP