Thursday February 22, 2024

Thar coal deposits to benefit locals most

February 24, 2017


Pakistan will exploit mammoth coal energy deposits in Tharparkar. The venture aims to empower host communities socioeconomically through the best welfare model ever designed in Pakistan. This was said by Shams Shaikh, Chief Executive Officer of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC).

Extracting coal will be considered mere a futile exercise if the local Tharis do not benefit from it profusely, as they are primary owners of the natural resource lying beneath their feet. The CEO said while talking exclusively to The News Thursday.

The SECMC is a joint venture corporation between the Sindh government and Engro Corporation founded in 2009, and tasked to mine 1.57 billion tons of coal and produce 660MWs of electricity from the Block II of the Thar coalfield in the first phase. The total cost of the project is $2.1 billion, while the company has planned to produce 4000 MWs in next five years.

Shams said the welfare model is embedded in the Resettlement Policy Framework, approved by the Sindh govt, a document which is prepared in line with the best international practices. “Matchless compensation is being paid to the owners whose land has been acquired. At the same time, a culturally-compatible 1,111 yards bungalow will be provided to every married couple when relocated to the model colony being built nearby the existing settlement,” he added.

He said, apart from providing 70 percent jobs to the local population belonging to district Tharparkar, a vigorous training program under Khushhal Thar Program is also underway to provide above 1400 people the skill training in various fields.

He added small scale contracts to local vendors have employed hundreds of local youth, additionally. Elaborating the initiatives under Corporate Social Responsibility, Shaikh said in collaboration with the Indus Hospital, a free-of-cost mother and child healthcare clinic is already working in Thar Coal Block II, while a 100-bed hospital is in the planning phase, which would be constructed in Taluka Islamkot.

In the same way, he added, a primary school in cooperation with The Citizen Foundation is under-construction in Islamkot city where 1,000 students will get education from the current year. “Six more matching schools in each Taluka of district Tharparkar will be established to impart quality education to underdevelopment and poor children of the area,” he added further.

Replying to a question about controversy over Gorrano Reservoir, Shaikh clarified that the petition of the local villagers is being heard by the Sindh High Court, Hyderabad bench. “The court has formed a four-member committee comprising renowned technocrats, headed by a credible govt officer Asif Hyder Shah to probe the matter and ascertain the facts,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added the Gorrano Reservoir scheme was approved after due legal diligence and following codal formalities by the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Sindh Wildlife and Forest Department and the land acquisition was also done under the Land Acquisition Act 1894. “Apart from the litigation on the matter, we have continued to holding dialogue with local communities to resolve it amicably, as we believe they must be compensated abundantly if there is any undesirable impact on their livelihoods,” he said.