Thar Coal project in the doldrums

* SECMC seeks urgent meeting with state stakeholders to ensure closure

KARACHI: Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) has sought an urgent meeting with state stakeholders to chalk out a framework to ensure urgent closure of the Thar coal project as government of Sindh and Government of Pakistan (GoP)’s apparently seemed unhelpful to facilitate the SECMC, it has reliably learnt.
In this regard Chief Executive Officer of SECMC Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh wrote a letter to GoS, a copy of which was available with Daily Times, stating Thar coal mining and power project’s financing from GoS remained elusive. SECMS is a joint venture between the GoS and the Engro Corporation with 40:60 shares in the project with the plan to generate 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity through mined coal. 
Letter said, “No formal meeting of Thar Coal and Energy Board (TC&EB) has been held for the last two years though the forum was formed to discuss all the issues pertaining to Thar development, in which all the important stakeholders from GoP, GoS and investors were represented, SECMC’s application for issuance of Letter of Intent (LOI) for power plant, coal tariff etc are all pending due to inactive board while SECMC has requested for this meeting a number of times without any success.
Requesting finalisation and approval of Thar Coal pricing mechanism and determination of SECMC’s coal tariff, CEO wrote in letter, “After a preliminary meeting with consultant in March, we are not all aware of any further progress on the issue, ‘We had been advised by Grant Thorton their overseas partner-SRK-UK and Wood Mckanazie will have consultative sessions with all stakeholders by early April but nothing has moved on this front since then, all this pace, finalisation of coal pricing mechanism even by the end of 2014 seems unlikely”. 
Subsequent to official acquisitions of land for the project, official rate and land award notice is yet to be issued by the Legal Aid Office (LAO) and work on transfer of ‘Fauti Khatas’ is required to be expedited, so that payment process can be started to those land owners whose records are verified and who are willing to sell their land at the notified rate, Sheikh stated in a letter.
No closure has been achieved on the finalisation of proposed effluent discharge location, which is essential for timely execution of the project. The main issue is the Environmental Protection Agency government of Sindh of the scheme and notification by Sindh Wildlife and Forest Department, it said.
Work on phase-I of the scheme is getting hindered due to land acquisition for water carrier from RD 365 to Nabisar. Similarly work on phase-II of the scheme i.e water pumping from Nabisar to Vejihar, water carrier and water storage at Vejihar is behind schedule, SECMC informed Sindh government.
SECMC plans to initiate renovation and refurbishment of Rescue Centre (RC) to use the facility as site office for managing the local OB removal activity, letter regarding hand-over of RC has not been issued to SECMC.
Exemption of Sindh sales tax and Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SPPRA) was agreed by Chief Minister and letters have been sent to Sindh government, however both matters were still pending due to procedural issues which needed to be sorted out at the earliest.
Besides aforementioned matters, SECMS is seeking several other issues to be resolved by which are LA with Sindh government for official infrastructure, draft resettlement policy, approval of mining lease for lease of additional land and hydrocological mapping of Thar Coal.
Currently work on Airport is stalled apparently due to litigation related to contractors.

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