Speakers at seminar discuss `social & environmental impacts of Thar coal power project`

  • Calendar Dec 13, 2018

Speakers at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) at a local hotel on Thursday demanded a ban on all coal-powered electricity generation plants in the country, especially those being installed in Tharparkar.

They also vowed to launch a movement against use of coal for power generation.

PFF chairman Mohammed Ali Shah told the seminar titled ‘Social and environmental impacts of Thar coal power project’ that a forum was being established to resist the use of coal in power generation at Thar in the larger interest of the desert region’s population.

Their lives, livestock, fertile land and environment all are at stake, according to him.

Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Prof Dr Mohammad Ismail Kumbhar called for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to address the issues highlighted by the PFF chief and the media regarding the hazards involved.

Mr Shah said that coal-powered plants must be banned across the country. Instead, he stressed, government should focus on renewable sources of energy.

“There are four prominent types of coal used around the world [for the purpose] — lignite, bituminous, sub-bituminous and anthracite — and lignite discovered in Thar and known as brown coal contains less amount of carbon and a greater amount of water. It’s the dirtiest and worst kind of coal,” he said.

He claimed that emission from this category of coal was considered to be responsible for premature death.

He pointed out that the Thar coalfield was divided into 12 blocks. Initially, block I and II were leased out to a private corporate firm for mining. It was in block II where practical work for surface mining and installation of 660MW power plants was started in 2015.

“The lignite coal of Thar will produce dirtiest energy in Pakistan,” he claimed.

The other issues that needed to be looked into were land disputes, dewatering of the Gorano reservoir, cost of land estimated at a lower side, absence of a resettlement policy for the affected Thari villagers etc.

Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) deputy director (technical) Muneer Abbasi said that ecological conditions should be restored without any compromises on sustainable development. He said that major environmental issues which were arising out of the proposed activity related to solid waste, air emission and occupational health safety. He stated that the issues pertained to emission of gases, smoke and ambient air quality.

“We are addressing the issues in the light of possible effects after the project is put into operation,” he said.

A resident of Gorano village, Mr Bheemraj, said that Tharis fretted about the saline water reservoir as it was taking its toll on the entire environment and ecology of the region. He said the court of law had also been moved over it.

Asim Nawaz Khan, Suleman G. Abro, Pushpa Kumari, Dastagir Bhatti, Bukshal Talho, Nazeer Qureshi, Ishaq Mangrio and others also spoke. (Courtesy: DAWN).

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