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‘Desert to see economic boom’: PM Shehbaz inaugurates 1,650MW coal-fired power plants in Thar

Thar, MAR 22: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated two coal-fired power plants in Tharparker with a capacity of 1,650 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation, saying that the projects would turn the desert into an “economic hub”.

The projects, including the 1,320MW Shanghai Electric power plant and 330MW Thal Nova power plant, will annually generate 11.24 billion units of low-cost electricity. Through the direct investment of $3.53bn into these projects, the production of coal-based electricity in Thar will increase up to 3,300MW.

Addressing the launch event at Thar’s Islamkot area, the prime minister said it was a “moment of celebration” for the country that the Tharparkar desert was getting a “source of basic facilities for life”.

He dismissed the criticism by certain people against Thar’s coal, terming it a blessing with immense potential for power resources that needed to be untapped.

“The journey of progress will spread across the country and will strengthen the national economy,” PM Shehbaz said, adding that projects which were abandoned during the last four years were being made operational again.

Shehbaz said that by April 30, power turbines would be installed at the projects to generate electricity, which would be supplied to the rest of the country through transmission lines.

He expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for extending support to Pakistan in carrying out development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

PM Shehbaz vowed that the coalition government would put in all efforts to materialise CPEC projects, with the agriculture sector as its next phase.

The prime minister also announced a hospital for the people of Tharparkar to provide them with medical facilities at their doorsteps.

PM Shehbaz also condemned Tuesday’s terrorist incident that targeted military personnel and said the “malicious agenda” of the nation’s enemies would be foiled.

“No one is above the law and will not be allowed to support terrorists and use them as shields.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the power projects could be materialised as the federal government and the Sindh government “worked in harmony to facilitate the masses”.

He expressed satisfaction over the level of cooperation between Pakistan and China on carrying out development projects, which he said, had resulted in the “improvement of health and educational facilities”.

Power Minister Khurram Dastagir said the government was “committed to providing civic amenities to the people across the country”.

He said under CPEC, the development of indigenous resources was a “big step towards self-reliance” and was also valuable for foreign exchange reserves.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the political and economic interests of Pakistan and China were aligned for the benefit of the two nations. He termed the completion of the Thar Coal project a “success for all stakeholders” from both countries.

Chinese Charge d’Affaires Pang Chunxue said the commercial operation of the Thar coal project ranked high among other coal-fired power plants. She assured all possible cooperation by China in the field of development and progress.

Shanghai Electric Power Company Limited is the executing agency of the projects, while the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) is the coordinating ministry and Private Power and Infrastructure Board is the supervising agency.

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