Mining work begins in Thar Coal Block-I

CM directs construction of residential colony for 600 families displaced by the project

​ Our Correspondent October 09, 2019

KARACHI: A Chinese power company, Shanghai Electric, has mobilised its machinery and begun mining work in Thar Coal Block-I for the development of the mine and installation of the 1,320 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant. This was disclosed in a meeting headed by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at the CM House on Tuesday.

Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Board of Revenue Senior Member Qazi Shahid Pervez, Principle Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Energy Secretary Musadiq Khan, Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi, Additional Secretary to CM Shuhab Qamar and other relevant officials.

In response to a query, Shaikh told the CM that Shanghai Electric has also begun work on developing a coal mine to generate 7.8 million tonnes of coal annually.

The CM was informed that around 600 families would be displaced due to the coal mining and installation of the power plant. The CM directed Shaikh to ask the Chinese company to construct a residential colony for the affected families. "The colony must have good houses, paved roads, school, park, mosque, temple, playground, and small market," directed the CM. He gave the example of the Suneri Dars village constructed by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SEMC) for displaced people of Block-I. According to the CM, the model village school there was flourishing with even those children who had not been enrolled before attending the school.

The CM approved the appointment of Shaikh as the chairperson of SECMC and also appointed him as the chairperson of Thar Foundation to ensure corporate social responsibility.

Grid station

Shaikh told the CM that the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has requested the provincial government to provide 100 acres of land in Jhimpir for the construction of a grid station to transfer the power from wind corridor. The energy secretary said that the provincial government has given licence to 10 companies to install their wind energy plants. However, installation of the grid station is necessary to transfer power, he said.

The CM directed Pervez to seek a report from the Thatta and Jamshoro DCs for making 100 acres of land available for the grid station.

Energy generated from waste

Shaikh told the CM that a Kuwaiti company has applied for installation has applied for the installation of a waste-energy project at Dhabeji. The CM approved the project proposal and now the Kuwaiti company is applying for a tariff with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA). The CM said that the company would be given land at Dhabeji for the installation of the plant. He directed the energy minister to follow up with NEPRA on the company's request.

Meanwhile, the CM directed the energy department to reconcile with the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and start its impending village gasification for which the provincial government has already paid. According to the CM, the Sindh government has paid Rs6.5 billion for village gasification. "Out of Rs6.5b, around Rs1.5b is still with the SSGC and is meant to provide gas to 58 villages in different districts," said Shah while directing Shaikh to hold a meeting with SSGC.

Power dues

The CM directed the finance and energy departments to work out a plan to pay the electricity bills of district municipal corporations (DMCs), District Council of Karachi and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. "I have noticed that the procedure for releasing payment of power bills to local bodies, and then to pay the utility company, K-Electric, takes times. And by then a penalty is imposed for late payment," he said, adding that he wanted fiscal discipline for power bills. Shah said that according to Supreme Court's orders, Rs580 million in electricity bills up to March 2019 of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) were to be paid by the Sindh government while from April 2019 onwards KMC was to pay its own bills. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2019.


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