The Government of Sindh has recently been able to inaugurate two power plants in Block-II of Thar Power Project with 330 MW electricity generation capacity from each power plant. The achievement is termed not only a great success of the Provincial Government, which is tainted, with labels of bad governance and corruption in the last many years but also a game-changing phenomenon for the region, province, and the country.

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto originally visualized Thar project in 1996, which met with snags in the following years and could come to the track only after PPP’s government came to power in the province in the year 2008. A capable civil servant (Younus Dagha) was the Secretary of the Sindh Coal Development Department who did pioneer work towards the start of the project, as he was a proponent of public-private partnership for the project, of course, with full support from the political leadership.

A Joint Venture, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SEMC), between Government of Sindh and Engro established in Oct 2009, for the development of mining at Thar Coal Block II. The project, however, practically took off in the year 2013 when the Federal Government eventually provided a sovereign guarantee to the international investors for the project. Here again, it was a significant contribution of Mr. Younus Dagha in the capacity of Additional Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GOP in earning the said guarantee by defeating bureaucratic labyrinths in the Ministry. Eventually, in May 2013, a power company in the name of Thar Power Company Ltd.

(THARCO) is a subsidiary of SEMC with the mandate to develop the first power project based on coal. As per the JV agreement, Engro was responsible for Project Management and financing, while Government of Sindh for Infrastructural Development and attaining requisite consents and approvals for the Project. SECMC initially planned to develop coal mining and power project with a capacity of 3.8 million tons per annum and 660 MW by October 2019, which they have achieved six months ahead.

Now two power plants under the Thar Power project have started electricity generation, which has been included in the national grid thus alleviating the country’s power shortage largely. Now it depends upon the federal government how it revamps and develops transmission infrastructure in the country in order to distribute the electricity, it has stored in the national grid. With the passage of time and development of the site as well as coming in new partners with added projects for electricity generation from coal energy, the country would be benefitting greatly thus addressing the crises of electricity shortage for centuries on one hand and on the other finding the path of prosperity for its people.

Yet, people of Thar need urgent relief as they been suffering deeply from poverty, hunger, and ignorance for decades. The Government must urgently take efforts to set up a comprehensive system of health service, medical and engineering colleges, and universities so the Human development could move side by side the infrastructure development, which has already taken start due to the launching of precious power projects in the region.

ABDUL SAMAD CHANNA,

Karachi, April 20.