One can imagine the true potential of this natural gift from the fact that only one block would produce two billion barrels of diesel. Proper exploitation of these reserves would change fate of the country as it would not only help overcome energy crisis impeding economic development but also save billions of dollars currently being spent on import of oil. The project should have received priority but unfortunately we are still at the rudimentary stage of exploitation even after over a decade.
Pakistan is blessed with numerous natural resources; namely gold and
copper in Saindak and Riko Diq, natural gas at many places, coal in
Thar, salt mines in Punjab, and precious stones in KP etc. However, we
have miserably failed to exploit these resources, for the benefit of our
people and do not take advantage of such great reservoir of wealth on
and under our beloved motherland.
Most of these untapped resources are of great strategic value and must
be utilized for the strategic gains to benefit our country in general
and the region in particular. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, our
successive government have without fail messed up with these strategic
assets and there is a long list of grave misconduct in exploring,
exploiting and utilizing these resources for the above stated purposes.
Instead a number of these resources have been in the past thrown away to
benefit individuals or the foreign companies but the state and its
people. Riko Diq gold mines, Gwadar Port operations, steel mill cases
are just a few examples of mismanagement and lack of transparent
mechanisms during award of contracts.
Thar coal reserves are one such strategic asset that Allah Almighty has
blessed Pakistan in abundance, and right utilization of these ‘Black
Gold’ reserves can change the destiny of Pakistan in general and poor
people of that area in particular. However, this would only be possible
if coal reserves in Sindh in general and Thar in particular are
exploited and utilized properly. Such huge reserves certainly need lot
of investment and state of the art technology to avoid wastage of the
Therefore it is of utmost importance that once the contracts for the
exploration of coal are awarded, the potential investors have been
thoroughly screened and scrutinized in detail. It is essential that such
strategic assets do not fall into wrong hands and the award of contract
does not get challenged as in case of Riko Diq.
While one would wish the above, rumours are afloat that Indian
investors; TATA power and Bharat Heavy Electric Limited (BHEL) are
steadily making inroads in the power corridors to gain support for the
award to conduct open cast mining of Thar Coal. Reportedly consultations
are taking place on multiple fronts, i.e sell Pakistan coal to India
for their projects in Gujrat and Tamil Nadu, and development of Thar
coal mines by Indo-US Companies. Sources have revealed that a number of
visits have taken place by highly influential people in Sindh government
through Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) officials to India and
the same were reciprocated by TATA and BHEL delegations to make progress
to grab Pakistan’s Black Gold reserves. The deal is likely to benefit
the two parties in similar manner as was envisaged in Riko Diq case.
While these rumours are well supported with evidence of behind the
scenes consultations on the modalities to gain control of the strategic
reserves, Pakistani team of looters and grabbers are busy in finding
ways and means to save the deal from being challenged in the Supreme
Court fearing a premature exposure to an otherwise extremely secret
It is in this backdrop that the experts are suggesting that Thar coal
should be developed indigenously to accrue the maximum benefits out of
this blessed strategic resource.
There is no dearth of technical and administrative expertise to undertake such projects.
It is earnestly believed that technology and scientific expertise could
be made available by retired officers of Pakistan Army Corps of
Engineers as well as the Faculty of the Centre for Coal Technology at
the University of Punjab. To name a few, Major General (R) Pervez Akmal
who is already developing a institutional model for the development of
Thar coal and Professor Dr. Shahid Muneer, either individually or as a
group may be tasked to provide the technical and scientific consultation
for the Black Gold Project; as has been done by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand
in case of Riko Diq and Thar Coal Gasification projects.
It is once again highlighted that Government of Sindh must not indulge
itself in any such dubious deal to award the strategic contracts to
Indian companies under the garb of steady improvement in trade relations
and for the want of foreign investment. Such strategic projects must
not be handed over to the companies from countries which have a history
of enmity and hostility for Pakistan.
It is hoped that sanity would prevail and Thar Coal would not become another Riko Diq.
Thank You For Reading