Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday vowed to solve Pakistan’s energy crisis through full exploitation of the Thar coal reserves.
The PM was addressing the International Coal Conference 2011, which was organized by the Sindh Government and attended by international investors and industrialists.
Gilani traced the history of the Thar coalfield back to its inauguration by Benazir Bhutto in 1993. The plan to extract coal was shelved by the subsequent government, but Gilani said the current PPP-led government was finally transforming Bhutto’s vision into reality.
With full utilisation of the coal reserves, 100,000 MW could be produced over the next 300 years, the PM claimed. He even looked forward to a future in which surplus electricity could be exported.
The PM said various institutions have been joined under the umbrella of the Thar Coal Board Energy Board, led by the Sindh chief minister, and are working together to maximise coal resources in Thar which have been estimated at 175 billion tons. He added that the government would encourage foreign investment in the project.
Gilani also mentioned the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, which will generate over 4500 MW electricity after completion. This was another example of using indigenous sources of power generation – a necessary process in order to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and thus eliminating the menace of circular debt, according to the PM.
Gilani called for a balanced energy mix, gradually increasing coal-based power generation and bringing it at a par with the world average of 40% coal-based power generation.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2011.