KARACHI - Sindh Coal Authority has decided to construct an airstrip near Islam Kot (Tharparkar) with a cost of Rs972 million to facilitate the investors, engineers and promoters to access to Thar coal field. In this regard, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Sindh Coal Authority and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Saturday, under which airstrip/airport will be completed within two years with the assistance of CAA. Director General Sindh Coal Authority Ahmed Bakhsh Narejo and Project Director CAA Vikram Singh Sodho signed the MoU on behalf their organisations. The Additional Chief Secretary Planning & Development Department Aurangzeb Haque, Secretary Finance Dr Fazalullah Pechuo, Secretary Coal & Energy Aijaz Ali Khan, representatives of investors Cooger Co Australia Ashraf Khan Block-III, Dr Shabbir of UGG Block-V, Ahsan Malik of CAA and General Manager Coal Authority Mumtaz Ali Qureshi and others attended the MoU ceremony. After the ceremony, the Secretary Coal & Energy Department Aijaz Ali Khan talking to media said large deposits of mineral coal had been discovered around Islam Kot, which needs to be utilised for meeting growing energy requirements of the country. Explorations conducted so for have promised a long-term availability of this precious mineral resources. The airport facility would save their precious time and also help them in avoiding hardships of ground travel, particularly during the summers when the heat reaches its peak, he said. Under the MoU, the CAA will execute the project, however; tendering process will be started very soon. The runway of the airstrip will spread over 7,000 feet area, while landing and take-off of every plane could be possible including C-130, he said. The proposed airstrip will help in transportation of heavy machinery from one place to coal field too. Khan further informed that Islam Kot airstrip would be developed as a new facility from the grass root level to achieve certain economic objectives to start with a modest facility providing essentially required infrastructure and make investments in phases on the basis of actual demand/requirement. The master plan, therefore proposes three stages of development phased over next 40 years, he maintained. He further said that billions of rupees were required to develop infrastructure at coal field and area, so the government using all possible and available sources can provide facilities there. Feasibility study is underway to connect the coal field from Karachi port to Thar coal through rail link. Besides, provision of water facility was also underway as government is working on a plan to provide 100 cusecs water at Thar coal field from Nara canal is also under implementation, he said.