Shah directs Chinese company to revolutionise desert agriculture

Company working on Thar Block-I asked to build model colony for people displaced by the power plant

​ Our Correspondent October 22, 2019

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah urged Sino Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL), which is developing a coal mine and power plant in Thar Block-I under corporate social responsibility (CSR), to introduce new varieties of agricultural seeds in Thar to revolutionise desert agriculture. Presiding over a meeting on Monday with SSRL and the board of revenue at the CM House, Shah said that due to water scarcity and deep-water table, very few crops were cultivated in Thar.

"Whatever is cultivated in Thar has low yield. I am keen to develop the desert agriculture sector to usher in new vistas of prosperity in the area," he said, adding that the region was rich in mineral resources.

Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Board of Revenue Senior Member Qazi Shahid Pervez, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro and other relevant officials attended the meeting along with a seven-member delegation of the SSRL including its Vice President Zhang Xing, Tang Weija, Yuan Zheng, Li Hongtu, Yin Weichao and Shuraim Surmawala.

Agriculture has potential to give boost to economy

The company's vice president assured the CM that SSRL would fulfill all its CSR obligations. "Our intervention would definitely realise the vision of the CM for agriculture-rich Thar desert," he said, adding that he would involve agricultural experts from China and distribute seeds among the people of Thar.

Acquiring land

Meanwhile, the Chinese company, Shanghai Electric, operating under SSRL has started the development of a 7.8mtpa coal mine in Thar Coalfield Block-I to install a 1320MW power plant through the direct investment of $3 billion.

SSRL vice president Xhang told the CM that there were facing some issues in the acquisition of the 8,216 acres of land, which included 6,322 acres of government land and 1,894 acres of private land, for the mining, dumping, camp, coal-yard and for the captive power plant. Parvez informed the CM that the price determination of the state land was under process. The CM directed Parvez to resolve the issue within the next 20 days.

Residential colony

Shah said that there was a model set by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company for the settlement of displaced people by developing a modern residential colony. "This is my condition. The 1,200 affected families must be given the same kind of houses as have been given to the affected people of Thar Block-II," said Shah.

SSRL chief also brought the CM's attention to the implementation of the water usage agreement. At the this the energy minister said that the Makhi-Farash canal would discharge 200 cusecs of water and the Nabirsar to Vajihar connection was being considered for construction through private investors. The CM directed the energy minister to bring the water usage issue before the cabinet for approval.

Shah was told that over 1,000 locals had been provided with employment in Thar Coal Block-I. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2019.


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