KARACHI                -              A 105-kilometer long railway line will be laid from Chorr to Islamkot to trans­port coal from Thar to Port Qasim and upcountry, apart from the installation of 1,320 MW power plant in Thar Coal Block-VI under the China Pakistan Eco­nomic Corridor (CPEC)-related proj­ects.

The was decided at a meeting held here at the CM House on Friday be­tween Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah and CPEC Authority (CPECA) Chairman General (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa.

The meeting was attended by Min­ister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Energy Mu­sadiq Khan.

General Bajwa was assisted by En­ergy Specialist at CPEC Authority Ya­sir Arafat and Infrastructure Specialist Muzamil Zia.

CPECA Chairman Gen (r) Asim Bajwa told the chief minister that the Chinese president was expected to visit Paki­stan between May and June this year; therefore all the formalities and docu­mentation of the CPEC-related projects should be completed by then.

The chief minister said that three projects of Sindh related to CPEC, Kara­chi Circular Railway (KCR), China Spe­cial Economic Zone Dhabeji and Keti Bandar had already been approved. He added that only the finalization of their financial mechanism was pending.

Talking about the KCR, Murad said that framework agreement between Pakistan and Chinese Planning Com­mission was in the making. “Both sides, China and Pakistan are close to signing the concessional agreement,” the chief minister said, and added that Pakistan Railways (PR) and Sindh government had also agreed on handing over the Right of Way at common corridor be­tween ML-1 and KCR.

General Bajwa said that KCR was on top of the CPECA priorities.

He told the CM that he would pur­sue the already approved projects with the Chinese authority so that work on them could be started at the earliest.

He said that KPT had become one of the most loaded ports, therefore a plan had been worked out to construct an expressway; right from the sea to Malir Expressway. The chief minister said that Keti Bandar was also an im­portant port from the strategic point of view, and could serve as an alternative for the KPT.

CPECA chairman said that in order to transport Thar coal to Port Qasim and upcountry, a 105-km long railway track would be laid from Chorr to Islamkot. “From Karachi up to Chorr there is a main railway line,” he said.

DHABEJI ECONOMIC ZONE

The chief minister said that he had allotted 1,530 acres of land for China Special Economic Zone at Dhabeji. He added that Dhabeji had various advan­tages such as that it had access to Port Qasim, which would enable raw mate­rial import and finished goods export without incurring major inland trans­portation costs, and also saving time.

Murad said that Dhabeji zone had also an access to Jinnah Terminal, which was hardly 35 kilometers via the National Highway, enabling safe trav­el of foreign workers and management personnel.

It has also direct access to Nation­al Highway enabling the transporta­tion of goods to upcountry and Cen­tral Asian nations utilizing the national Trade Corridor.

Murad said that the project had been approved at the ECNEC meeting, and it has also committed to provide ser­vices such as electricity and gas. The KE would provide 250 MW electricity at doorstep of Dhabeji Zone with an esti­mated cost of Rs4 billion. The planning commission has also approved the PC-I prepared by Sindh Investment Depart­ment, he said. He added that 10 MGD water and 13.5 mmcfd of gas would be also provided to the zone.

KETI BANDAR

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Keti Bandar was lo­cated about 107 km from Thatta city and 150 km from Karachi via Gharo which is very promising in terms of fu­ture prospects. “The Keti Bandar Proj­ect is an important part of his govern­ment’s strategy towards developing the Energy sector,” he said.

He disclosed that a private firm has been engaged to conduct technical and financial feasibility study of the proj­ect in December 2019 and the finan­cial feasibility was almost completed and report submitted by the end of this month.

These studies are in three phases. The first phase is the technical feasibili­ty for setting up 1320 MW power plant, railway line from Thar to Keti Bandar, power evacuation to national grid, con­struction of coal jetty and allied infra­structure. Second phase consists of the bid management and third phase is for transaction advises.

Other Projects: The other CPEC relat­ed projects came under discussion be­tween the chief minister and the chair­man CPEC Authority were two major potential projects based on Thar dis­cussed on the 9th JCC meeting held on November 5, 2019.

The first project is coal to Liquid En­gineering Plan based on Thar coal at Thar. The second project is Thar Block-IV for coal gasification for fertilizer pro­duction.

It was pointed out in the meeting that the combined designed urea produc­tion capacity of urea firms in Pakistan was at 6,447KMT per annum while they are operating at 5700 KMT per annum in 2018. Reason for low capac­ity utilization was reduced availability of natural gas.

The combined natural gas needs for the urea plant is 775 million std. cubic feet (MMCFD) of which 154 or 20 per­cent is coming from RLNG in 2018.

The natural gas needs for urea is pro­jected to 8300 mmcfd in 2028 where­as domestic gas will be only 2000 mmcf, thus the LNG component would reach 72 percent of the total needs. At this, Gen Asim Bajwa said that therefore we would have to increase our reliance on Thar coal power generation, Thar coal gasifi­cation and Thar Coal based diesel that would help in maintaining our energy, food security and reduce external crisis.

Appreciating General Bajwa’s opin­ion and support, Murad said that this would help in improving balance sheet of our national organizations which has become red due to circular debt and external crisis. Bajwa said that he would visit Thar soon and then fly to China to finalise CPEC-related ap­proved and new projects.