-Ratio of infant deaths in Thar is not as high as propagated, says Sindh CM
-Construction of dams not a feasible idea since country’s river systems do not have enough water, says Sindh CM
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday said that Thar will prove to be a game changer for the country.
He was addressing a delegation of 215 participants of the National Security and War Course 2019 of the National Defence University (NDS) that had called on him here at the CM House. The programme was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, IG Police Kaleem Imam and provincial secretaries.
“We have changed the game by excavating coal and now are going to transmit the first electron to the national grid in December 2018,” said Murad Ali Shah.
The Sindh CM said that the achievement of open pit mining, installation of a coal-fired power plant and production of electricity had a long and painful history. “The coal mining and coal-based power project plan was initiated by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto during her second tenure and her successive government not only scrapped the project but dishonored an international commitment in doing so,” he said while adding that no international firm was ready to invest in Thar.
Shah said that when all the doors were found closed; the provincial government in partnership with Engro formed a company and started mining work itself. “With the grace of Almighty Allah, coal has been excavated from the mine and a coal-based power plant is also at its completion stage. In December 2018, we would start producing electricity from this coal,” he said.
He recalled that at one point there were only tracks leading to the coalfield. “The Sindh government has invested over $1 billion dollars to develop a road network, airport and other facilities in Thar, this is why Thar has become the land of opportunities where investment in coal mining power generation, tourism, hotel industry, transport and and in other sectors is actively attracting investors,” he said.
Commenting on the drought situation in Thar, Murad Ali Shah said that the question of why children are dying and poverty is on the increase arises when a city has been developed and investment of billion of dollars was taking place there and Thar is not there yet.
He said that the drought is a result of poverty. “A large portion of the population lives in the desert. Their livelihood depends on rainfall. They grow bajar, juwar and other such crops which thrive on heavy downpours. When it does not rain, people start migrating and it is in the migration that their cattle and children die. The cause of deaths of children is also early marriages, malnutrition and lack of awareness. Most children are born weak and the ratio of premature births is also high. These children are born at home with the help of untrained traditional `daies’ and are taken to hospitals later where they cannot survive. However, the ratio of infant deaths is not as high as propagated,” he said and added “we have started distributing free of cost wheat and have launched a nutrition programme besides, upgrading all tehsil and district headquarter hospitals where all the facilities are available”.
Talking about terrorism, Murad said that Sindh has historically been a land of peace, tranquillity and learning, however, the province of Sindh, particularly Karachi has suffered at the hands of terrorism because of wrong policies.
He said that he was proud to say that Sindh has not produced any terrorist and that all terrorists who come to the province are from other areas. “However, there is no denying that the wave of extremism did affect this land of sufis and facilitators of some terrorists inflicted serious damage to the social fabric, economy, and education of Sindh. However, a targeted operation was launched against these terrorists, target killers and extortionists and its results have been very good. Now, street crime is a big challenge and we have launched a policy to counter so, soon it would be eliminated as well,” he added.
The Sindh CM said that after restoring law and order in Karachi, the dilapidated infrastructure of the city, including underpasses and overhead bridges have been reconstructed and the delayed K-IV bulk water supply, S-III projects and other water treatment projects have also been initiated.
“We have also launched a public transport project and the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project would also see the light of day very soon,” he said while adding the establishment of new industrial zones would create employment opportunities.
In response to a question about the country’s water depletion, the chief minister said that water shortage has badly affected ecology of Indus Delta; however, the construction of dams was not a feasible idea since our river systems do not have enough water either. “The problem of water shortage can be controlled through conservation and change in cropping patterns. This means we would have to switch over to low delta crops and canal lining,” he said.