KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in order to develop the coal-rich Tharparkar district, approved the creation of Thar Foundation with the objective to develop the social sector including education, health, water supply and other interventions.
He took this decision while presiding over a meeting to review Thar coal projects here at the CM House in Karachi. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Education Secretary Iqbal Durani, Energy Secretary Agha Wasif, SECMC Chief Shamsuddin Shaikh, Karachi Commissioner Aijaz Khan and others.
The chief minister said the landscape of Thar had dramatically transformed as one of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan. “Thar has now become a landmark of economic development and prosperity,” he said.
The chief minister said that Thar Block-II is the best option for future power plants. It was argued that at an optimal capacity, Thar Block-II had the potential to produce electricity at less than 5c/kWh. The chief minister was told that since April 2016, Thar coal price had increased by a mere 3.58 percent compared to an increase of more than 65 percent for imported fuels.
It was pointed out that the projects being developed at Thar Block-II were compliant with the national and international environmental guidelines.
The chief minister said that he was keen to see people of Thar reaping the fruits of huge investment. He directed the SECMC chief Shams Shaikh to start development works including the construction of schools, hospitals, water supply schemes through RO plants, and upgradation of traditional villages into model villages.
He said that Islamkot Taluka should be taken as a model for the development works. “Let us start from operationalising closed schools and launching new schools, developing model villages with two-room houses,” he said and added that time had come to introduce people of Thar with the modern way of living.
The chief minister directed Public Health Engineering Department and Sindh Coal Authority to identify the RO plants which are either working below the capacity or have operational issues and hand over the same to Thar Foundation. “Thar foundation would have a master plan for the development of social sector,” he said.
Murad Ali Shah also directed the concerned departments and SECMC to jointly develop a plan to launch compensation scheme for those affected by Gorano. “The Sindh government will give a grant of Rs900 million to Thar Foundation for community development and the royalty generated from mining and power generation would also be spent on social uplift in the area of Thar,” he said and added that Thar Foundation would work in different areas such as education, health, human resource development, livelihood, infrastructure, drinking water, women empowerment, disaster management, culture and heritage and youth development.
The chief minister was told that the construction of Islamkot airport had been completed. The SECMC also completed the construction of a hospital and out of nine, two school buildings were ready to be inaugurated. Shah said that these schemes would be inaugurated in the second week of April.