Sindh seeks release of Rs 1b for Thar coal project
* Says absence of infrastructure hindering exploration of 2.7 billion tonnes of coal
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has asked the federal government to immediately release the Rs 1 billion grant for the implementation of the Thar Coal Infrastructure Development Project, an official source told Daily Times on Friday.
Under the project, 219 kilometres long roads will be constructed in the Thar area linking it to the main roads network, he said. The roads, the widths of which will vary from 5.5 to 7.25 metres, are needed to transport 400 tonnes of machinery for the Thal Coal Power Plant Project from Hyderabad to Nagarparker.
The Thar Desert, located 325 km from Karachi in the northeast of Sindh is rich in other minerals such as granite, titanium, zircon, copper and precious stones.
China and Pakistan have agreed to extract coal under the Thar Coal project.
The mining area spreading over 9,100 square kilometres contains an estimated 2.7 billion tonnes of coal deposits.
The Chinese will set up a 330-megawatt power plant which will utilise coal extracted from the 50-square-kilometre area.
A Sindh government official in Islamabad told Daily Times that the development of infrastructure and a road network was necessary for exploring and extracting Thar coal.
He said the Sindh government had forwarded a proposal for the construction of 12 roads and two water-supply schemes at a cost of Rs 1.90 billion.
The planning division has asked the Sindh government to provide information on the proposed roads and their PC-1s for processing and approval by the competent forum, he said.
The official said the Sindh government was asked to provide a copy of the feasibility report of China’s Shenhua group on the Thar area, so that route, alignments and pavement design required for machinery transportation could be determined.
At present the Sindh government is working on two routes emanating from the Thar area: Islamkot-Chachro-Kantio-Umerkot-Mirpurkhas-Hyderabad, and Islamkot-Mithi-Naukot-Jhuddo-Digri-Hyderabad.
However, a Planning Division official said the Sindh government’s PC-1 submitted for the Thar Coal Infrastructure Development Project had some faults.
He said that the widths of the roads, 5.5 to 7.25 metres, were not in accordance with international standards.
The official said the National Highway Authority should examine the specification, submitted by the Sindh government.