KARACHI - Sindh Information and Power Minister Shazia Marri has said that foreign and local investors are taking keen interest in Thar Coal Project as government has declared the Thar Coal fields as ‘Special Economic Zone’. Government has approved fiscal incentives packages for coal mining and power projects by giving tax holidays and duty free import of machinery for 30 years.Talking to mediamen at her office here, she informed that the Oracle Coalfields of UK has invested up to US$610 million in Block-VI of Thar Coalfield to develop a coal mine of 5 million tonnes per year capacity. Initial coal production is expected in 2014 with mine development in late 2012. Oracle has also signed an MoU with the KESC to initially develop a 300MW mine-mouth power plant with a plan to develop it up to 1100MW at the Block-VI site. Another 1200MW by 2016 in Block–II while a Chinese company is working in Block–I to generate 900MW by 2015.Recalling the history, she said that after the discovery of Thar Coal, government of Benazir Bhutto took bold steps for exploration of huge coal resources for energy security of homeland but this project of national interest was abandoned by previous governments. “Since the PPP-led democratic government came into power in 2008, Thar Coal Project has been resumed with high priority for coal and energy sectors as it is the only viable answer to country’s energy related problems,” she added.The minister said that commitment of provincial government is evident from the fact that it had allocated around Rs30 million in the last four years for coal exploration, block development, mining and infrastructure department as per international standards.Minister Information said government of Sindh also entered in the mining project through a joint venture with Engro group to develop coal mining project in Block–II of Thar coal field and government of Sindh has contributed around Rs200 million in the equity of the project.Development works are underway besides improvement of roads, construction of mining rescue centre, water channel from LBOD to Thar via Nabisar with treatment facility, effluent disposal channel from coal field, establishment of Thar Airport at Islamkot, installation of reverse osmosis plants for provision of potable water to local people and industrial purpose.Like Sindh government, the federal government has also played its role for expeditious development of Thar Coal and Ministry of Power and Planning Commission focusing on Thar under Coal gasification project, projects of transmission network and provision of canal water. Recently the ECNEC has approved a scheme at a cost of Rs27 billion for provision of water from Makhi – Farash to Thar.She said that because of investment friendly policies of the government, the foreign and local investment is continually pouring into the Thar Coal project.