While the country is facing an energy crisis, the federal and Sindh governments seem to be at loggerheads over the establishment of ten coal-fired power plants that are planned to be built in Gadani.
The provincial government has lodged a written protest with the federal government against the approval of the site for the plants by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC). It has suggested that these projects should instead be shifted to Keti Bandar in the Thatta district.
In a letter of objection written by the CM’s adviser on finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, the provincial government has raised concerns that the construction of these plants will result in pollution and pose threat to over 20 million people living in Karachi.
The letter recommends that the projects be relocated to the Thatta district.
The ten coal-based plants, titled the ‘Pakistan Power Park’, have been conceived by the federal government through financial and technical assistance from China.
However, a senior official in the energy department claimed that government officials are paying more attention to importing coal to obtain their commission.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Murad Ali Shah said that no coal power project can be built near Karachi, which is approximately 20 kilometers away from Gadani.
“The projects will attract investment worth Rs900 billion and cause environmental degradation rather than relief,” the finance adviser said.
By putting up the coal-fired plants at Keti Bandar, the government will both revive the historical port and save on transportation costs, he said.
Citing the government’s commitment to exploit Tharparkar’s resources to meet the country’s power requirements, Shah said the Sindh government would request the federal government to reconsider its decision.
He added that before establishing the projects, the federal government has to seek permission from Sindh’s environmental protection agency. Lately environmental experts have raised doubt about the sustainability of these projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.