KARACHI - At least six local and international companies have shown their interest for making investment in coal based power project in Thar, a senior official of Mines and Mineral Department told The Nation on Tuesday. The famous Pakistani financial group, (JS Investment) Jehangir Siddiqi Group, Saudi Arabia based Al Tuwairqi Group, and a multinational of Yeman are in the run to make investment in coal based power project. Al Tuwairqui Group of companies is one of the leading business concerns in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while JS is leading financial Group of Pakistan. Advisor to Chief Minister on Mines and Mineral Department Dr. Khato Mal Jeewan while talking to The Nation said the Sindh government had invited proposals from companies interested in a project of open cast mining in Thar coalfield in a joint venture with equity participation of provincial government. The provincial government made mandatory that preference would be given to those companies with sound financial position of at least US $ 200 million dollars in paid-up capital, and those which are dovetailed with power project of at least 1000 MWs. Advisor said the Board of Directors of Sindh Coal Authority will look into the offers submitted in return of invitation of provincial department and than short listed. He did not confirm the acceptance of the offers of two national and international companies but said both are financially sound and well reputed firms. Dr. Khato Mal pointed out that PML-Q led previous provincial government without getting approval of Board of Directors of Sindh Coal Authority, had signed MoUs with 8 national and international firms for mining and other studies of coal reserves in Thar. Out of 3-4 companies, the majority of them did not fulfill the requirement which they signed in Terms and References, Advisor said, informing that notices have been issued to those companies which proved default in fulfilling the TOR. He alleged that Wapda, NEPRA, oil and generators' importers mafia was the main hurdle in utilization of coals of Sindh because they are making billion of rupees profit in this business. Referring to the recent studies of USA and other international companies which are working on coal mining in Thar, Dr. Jeewan said the utilization of only 25 billion tons of coal could fulfill the energy requirements of the country for next 200 years. He further said that Sindh had at least 175 billion tons lignite/coal reserves only in Thar but the Wapda and oil importers' mafia making hurdles for delay in implementation of coal based power project. The Wapda had not accepted the offer of 5.75 cent tariff per unit of coal based electricity of Chinese company Shenhwa which forced the company to quit the project without completion, he said and added the Prime Minister had instructed the NEPRA and Wapda for search of alternatives of coal based energy. Advisor disclosed that Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani in a high level meeting on energy had also directed Wapda and NEPRA for prior announcement of tariff on coal based electricity. The Wapda officials are working for fixation of possible tariff on coal based electricity of Thar, Advisor to Chief Minister disclosed and predicted that it could be 9-10 cent per unit. Arguing in favour of 9-10 cent per unit tariff, he said the Wapda was currently buying the oil based electricity at the rate of 13 cent per unit and over 10 cent per unit of wind electricity so no alternative cheapest energy other than coal based electricity. He said the Sindh government has reservations over the abolition of Sindh Coal Authority and notification for establishment of Thar Coal Authority, and the CM will take up the issue with the PM very soon.