Sindh Chief Minister’s Adviser on Planning and Development Kaiser Bengali made a surprise announcement on Saturday, saying the government would not be able to generate electricity from Thar coal till 2016.
This negated the Sindh chief minister’s claims that the government would start producing power from coal this month.
Talking to the media, Bengali said the government was taking measures to speed up the process of generating electricity and in this connection infrastructure like roads and electricity connections was being established. “We have inked agreements on coal extraction, but it will not be possible to even generate one unit of electricity before 2016,” he said.
Separately, a meeting of the Thar Coal and Energy Board was held at the Chief Minister’s House. Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah chaired the meeting where Federal Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was also present.
Shah said the government wanted to accelerate the pace of work on Thar coal and energy projects, which was essential for the progress and prosperity of the country, particularly Sindh.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also desired that full attention was paid to this important project, which would also generate huge employment opportunities.
Convener of the evaluation committee on international competitive bidding for Thar coal blocks, Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, gave a presentation to the meeting. The committee was constituted in the board’s last meeting.
He explained the evaluation process and highlighted proposals of different companies, based on their financial strength, mining capabilities and project timelines. The board, on the basis of recommendations of the committee, offered coal blocks for bidding to various local and international companies.
Meanwhile, the meeting was also informed about the status of development projects including Makhi-Farash water supply scheme, a transmission network, a railway link, effluent disposal, etc.
Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh assured the board that the federal government would provide all possible assistance and funds for these important projects.
The board was also given presentation by Ernst & Young, the international consultant engaged by the government on the proposed royalty model for large-scale coal mining.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.