While requesting for funds for Thar Coal Project Dr Samar Mubarikmand said, ‘ This blue pollution free flame of the gas burns in a flare and illuminates the dark night skies of Thar ‘. He has asked for Rs 9.9 billion and the new deadline is Dec 2013. Perhaps there is no project in the world that has been approved by the colour of the flame. We are not developing a nuclear device all commercial projects require bankable feasibility and audit. The claims of the nuclear scientist have to be audited by a team of experts. The blue flame at Thar as claimed by him has to be analysed with complete energy balance of inputs and outputs, otherwise we will be wasting two more years in an untested technology that is not in commercial production anywhere in the world. Dr Samar has been pursuing the Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) approach since early 2009 and has consumed around Rs 1 billion of the federal government and Rs 35 million of the Punjab Government with no meaningful output. The entire Thar Coal Development effort has been misdirected. Before any more release of funds there must be an evaluation by experts in the filed of coal mining and gasification not nuclear scientists. Coal is being gasified all over the world after mining in controlled reactors above the ground. I have been involved with the project since 2004, till today not a ton of coal has been extracted now the blue flame has emerged. As a nation we neither have time nor resources to waste on ‘Totka Technologies’. Development at Thar will start with digging. UCG is a detour. Making tall claims to seek extension in service has never produced results. The UCG Program of the retired nuclear scientists should be reviewed first before new extensions otherwise it should be shut down and the team sent home.

Mining at Thar should start without delay. With this resource Pakistan has the potential to emerge as an energy surplus nation provided established/proven technologies are utilised. Coal mining and gasification experts have to be called in.

DR FARID A. MALIK,

Lahore, January 9.