Thar Coal Project chief Dr Samar Mubarakmand has complained that the Planning Commission has declared it ‘unfeasible’ and stopped financial assistance at a time when his team had successfully gasified coal and was about to enter the power generation phase. In an interview to Waqt News, Dr Mubarakmand said that the project was still on, and repeated his determination that his team would still provide cheap electricity to the energy-starved country. Dr Mubarakmand was an important member of the team which made Pakistan a nuclear power in 1998, and is now trying to produce electricity from Thar coal, whose reserves are estimated at 175 billion tonnes, which are sufficient to generate 50,000MW of electricity for 500 years. While Dr Mubarakmand’s project needs barely $6 million to be completed, he does not expect all the money. He is ready to run it if given the initial cost; the remaining cost he would meet from profits of the project. He expects the project to produce 6000MW in six years. It should be noted that this is roughly equal to the present shortfall, which has caused the present loadshedding.

The country needs electricity from all possible sources, for it should be remembered that in those six years, demand would have grown, and thus the Thar coal alone would not end loadshedding, which seriously affects the domestic and commercial consumer, and causes the industrial units to go out of business. Thar electricity will cost $1 per watt, compared to $2.30 for hydel, $2.70 for wind, $3.20 for solar and $3.50 for nuclear. Coal gas powered electricity would cost Rs 4 per unit. The coal gasification concept also negates the alleged environmentally harmful effects of Thar coal, for the coal is not burned directly to produce electricity, but is first converted to gas. Pakistan's continued dependence on expensive oil generation, which in turn depends on importing expensive oil, must not continue, and the coal-gas technology, which is hardly an innovation but a tried and tested technology worldwide must be given the wherewithal for success.

Another aspect that deserves notice is that, like everyone who has objectively looked at Pakistan’s power shortages, Dr Mubarakmand does not see other power projects as rivals. This would explain why he expressed regret at the politicization of the Kalabagh project, which has a substantial hydel component. He, and the rest of the country, should see that the elements opposed to the dam, are those also opposed to the Thar project, all for the sake of being able to import oil.