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October 22, 2019

CM asks Chinese firm to introduce high-yield crops in Thar desert


October 22, 2019

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has urged the Sino Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL), developing a coalmine and power plant in Thar Block –I, to introduce new verities of agricultural seeds in Thar to revolutionise the desert agriculture under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

He said the Thar Desert was vast and rich in mineral resources, but due to water scarcity and deep-water table hardly a few crops were cultivated there. “Whatever is cultivated in Thar has a low yield; therefore, I am keen to develop the desert agriculture sector to usher in new vistas of prosperity in the area,” he said.

He said this on Monday while presiding over a meeting of the SSRL and the Sindh Board of Revenue at the CM House. The meeting was attended by Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, SMBR Qazi Shahid Parvez, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro and others.

The SSRL was represented by a seven-member delegation led by Zhang Xing, vice president of the company. The other delegation members were Tang Weija, Yuan Zheng, Li Hongtu, Yin Weichao, Shuraim Surmawala and others.

SSRL Vice President Zheng Xing assured the chief minister that his company would fulfil all of its CSR obligations. He added that he would involve agriculture experts of China and distribute seeds among the people there. “Our intervention would definitely realise the vision of the chief minister for the agriculture-rich Thar Desert,” he said.

Land acquisition

Chinese company Shanghai Electric under the name of SSRL has started development of a 7.8 mtpa coalmine in Thar Coalfield Block-I to install 1,320MW power plant through a direct investment of $3billion.

The company’s vice president told the chief minister that they had a land acquisition issue for 8,216 acres, which include 6,322 acres of government land and 1,894 acres of private land for mining, dumping, camp, coal-yard and for a captive power plant.

Senior Member Board of Revenue Qazi Shahid Parvez told the chief minister that the price determination of state land was under process. The chief minister directed the SMBR to resolve the issue within the next 20 days.

The chief minister said that there was a model set by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company for the settlement of displaced people by developing a most modern residential colony. “This is my condition that 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,” he said.

Water usage

The SSRL chief requested the chief minister to ensure the implementation of a water usage agreement.

At this, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that the Makhi-Farash Canal would discharge 200 cusecs of water and as per directives of the chief minister the Nabirsar to Vajihar connection was being considered to be constructed through private investors on a BOT basis.

The CM told the energy minister to bring this water usage matter to the cabinet for approval. He was told that over 1,000 local people had been provided employment in Thar Coal Block-I. The company has also been directed to provide agricultural seeds to local people for improvement of their agriculture.