The clamours that Dr Samar Mubarakmand is making to tap the coal buried underneath Thar area are frequent and frenzied enough to be merited some attention. On Saturday he claimed that he could generate 20,000MW of electricity for fifty years, if provided with the funds. He had a meeting with President Zardari, whose government is already battling a formidable energy crisis.
The underground coal gasification process that would be adopted has become a matter of debate. Even though it is satisfactorily under use in all different parts of the world, the engineering company with the patent has warned Pakistan that the site in Thar is not ideal for extraction. Dr Mubarakmand’s assurance that the process is best suited is not enough to allay the fears that the venture under his supervision would go waste; especially as this is not his area of expertise by a mile. He blames vested interests like CNG, LPG and mining mafia that are forcing the government to abandon the project. These elements, although powerful, must be indeed omnipotent if they have been successful in stalling a project which may have the potential to pave the streets with gold. The country needs quick and lasting supply of energy which these reserves may fulfil. It is unfortunate that the project still remains in a limbo. Whatever the reasons for government’s reluctance to provide funds, it may perhaps be best to only first assess the suitability of the site for extraction. For now, this will be enough of a good start.