Sindh chief minister approves Phase-III of Coalmine expansion project in Thar

ICMD, Oct 23, 2021: Sindh Chief Minister has approved phase-III of the Coal Mine expansion project in Thar at an estimated cost of Rs 15.8 billion to excavate 12.2 metric tons of coal per annum. "The third phase would reduce coal price to $27 per ton, making it the cheapest baseload fuel in the country, and Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) basket tariff would be reduced by Re 0.49/kWh to Rs15.05/kWh by saving to consumers Rs60 billion annually and top of it the Sindh government would earn Rs 10 billion royalty annually." He said this while presiding over a meeting held here at CM House on Friday, said a statement. The meeting was attended by Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Energy Abu Bakar, MD Thar Coal Board Tariq Shah, DG Sindh Coal Authority Mushtaq Soomro, Chief Executive Engro Ahsan Zaffar, CEO Engro Corporation Ghias Khan, Vice Chairman House of Habib Salman Burni, Vice Chairman House of Habib Tayab Tareen, CEO HUBCO Kamran Kamal, Saleemullah Memon of HUBCO, Chief Executive SECMC Amir Iqbal, GM Commercial SECMC Tallah Lodhi, CFO SECMC Muhammad Mudassir, GM Tech Mines Expansion Faisal Iqbal Siddiqi and others. Syed Murad Ali Shah said the journey of Thar Coal was started in 2009 with a joint venture partnership between the Sindh government and Sindh Engro for the development of Thar Coal. "Numerous challenges were associated with the project and each challenge had the potential of shelving the project," he said, adding "however, only due to unwavering commitment and resolve of the Sindh government the project was commissioned on July 10, 2019." Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh briefing the CM said the phase-I of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining (SECM) project was executed successfully and 660MW was in operation for the last two years. At this, the CM said his government would utilize Thar Coal beyond the power sector. Sharing spot prices of raw material used to produce energy in the country, the CM was told that the LNG was being purchased at $35 per MMBTU, imported coal at $9.7MMBTU, Residual Fuel Oil (RFO) at $12.4/MMBTU, and Thar coal at 5.95 MMBTU. The CM said the figures showed that the cheapest source of producing energy was Thar Coal. The CM was told that in the first phase (July 2019) 3.8 Mtps was being excavated for the generation of 660MW. In the second phase, 7.6 Mtpa is being excavated for generating 1320MW energy, and in the third phase after expansion 12.2 Mtpa is to be excavated for generation of 1980MW. The Minister for Energy said the cost of the first phase was $627 million, while the cost of the second phase came down to $216 million and the third phase would come down considerably to $93 million. He added that phase-III expansion would make Thar Coal the cheapest baseload fuel in the country. With the completion of the third phase, $420 million forex would be saved annually against the imported coal, the CM said, adding it would bring a reduction in circular debt of Rs74 billion annually - resulting in a 16 percent reduction in the rate of rising in circular debt. According to the CM, the price of Thar Coal would be reduced to $27 per ton, making it the cheapest baseload fuel in the country. He added that the Sindh government would earn Rs 10 billion annually. The CM after thorough discussion and deliberations approved the third phase for Rs15.8 billion. The project would also be referred to the provincial cabinet for final approval.

At least five people killed in firing incident in Ghotki district

ICMD, Oct 10: At least five people were killed in Sindh's Ghotki district in a firing incident between two sides of local Indhar community. Reports said the two sides settled in Kot Sabzal of Obawro sub district had a history of an enmity which erupted again on Sunday swallowing five lives. The armed people from both sides opened fire and thus five lost their lives. The police rushed to the scene and shifted dead bodies and sent the injured to the hospitals. The killings have gripped the area with fear.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is not happy with IG Mushtaq Mahar?

ICMD, Oct 5, 2021: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah is not happy with his province's police Chief Mushtaq Mahar, reports say. The reason behind this feeling is said to be the issue linked with the promotion of the chief minister's PSO Farrukh Bashir, who stayed back from his promotion and the chief minister was informed it was because of Mahar. Reports said Mr Shah has asked Chief Secretary Sindh Mumtaz Shah to write to IG but some reporters covering this issue are skeptical of the news regarding CM's directives to the chief secretary. A reporter doubts that the news may be fed by Farrukh Bashir.

Sindh government signs agreements to outsource 32 schools to private sector education management organisations

ICMD, Sep 28, 2021: The Sindh government signed agreements on Monday to outsource 32 schools to private sector education management organisations (EMOs) in the province. According to the agreements, 32 schools, including 13 USAID schools, will be outsourced to EMOs formed under USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme (SBEP). The pacts were signed at a ceremony held at the CM House. School Education Secretary Akbar Laghari and office-bearers from three successful EMOs — Sindh Madressatul Islam Board (SMB), Dare-i-Arqam Schools (Pvt.) Ltd. and MDZed (Pvt) Ltd — signed the agreements to manage the schools for 10 years. The SMB will manage four newly-constructed schools through USAID support and 10 other Sindh government schools in Malir and West districts of Karachi. The Dare-i-Arqam Schools will run four newly-constructed schools and four grouped schools in district Qambar-Shahdadkot, while MDZed (Pvt) Ltd will manage five newly-constructed schools and five other Sindh government schools in the districts of Kashmore and Jacobabad. The US government through USAID is contributing $159.2 million for the SBEP whereas the Sindh government is also providing $10m as cost-sharing for the same. The event was also attended by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah, United States Consul General Mark Stroh and other officials from the USAID.

Sindh Resource Limited employee attempts suicide to save his job

ICMD, Sep 19, 2021: An employee of Sino Sindh Resource Limited (SSRL) has reportedly attempted to commit suicide by self-immolation due to fear of losing his job. SSRL is working in Block One of Thar Coal Mines under the supervision of the Thar Coal and Energy Board. The employee who was working with the company as a translator has been rushed to a hospital in Karachi where he is being treated. One of his associates was quoted in a report as saying that Irshad Channa was being pressurized to move under a contractual arrangement in the company which he believed was discrimination against him. He returned to his room on the office premises and set himself on fire after putting petrol over him. Surprisingly, the local police do not have any information about the incident and SHO Islamakot reportedly said he had just heard about the incident as the affectee was not brought to the local hospital.

First batch of 40 buses for Green Line project reaches Karachi

ICMD, Sep 19, 2021: The first consignment of 40 buses for the Green Line bus rapid transit system (BRTS) reached the city on Sunday. Addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Port for the delivery of the fleet, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said "another milestone" had been achieved with the arrival of the buses as part of the Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP) announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He appreciated the efforts of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL) to ensure the completion of the Green Line project within its timeline, according to a statement issued by his office. The dedicated corridor will serve some of Karachi’s most populated areas, covering Surjani Town to Gurumandir and Numaish Chowrangi in phase 1. “The second consignment of 40 more buses [is] expected to reach in October 2021, and phase 1 of the project would be made operational by the end of November,” the governor said. One of Karachi’s major public transport projects, the Green Line BRTS was estimated to be completed by the end of 2017, but kept getting new deadlines as Karachiites continued to suffer in the absence of a proper mass transit system. Since the launch of the scheme, the battered roads on either side of the route have turned into a great source of nuisance for commuters and for the shopkeepers doing their businesses. For his part, federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the Green Line BRTS was a modern technology-based transport system, comprising a 22-kilometre dedicated corridor aimed at providing easier mobility and catering to the travel needs of 135,000 passengers per day. He told the event that a comprehensive Command and Control Centre had been established for transport projects including Green Line, Orange Line, and others. A bus depot has been built for 80 buses, while 22 bus stations have been constructed. “For the first time, we are bringing a modern transport system in Karachi,” the federal minister said, regretting that the megacity that paid the most taxes had been deprived of modern transport in the past. The minister said the commercial operations of the buses would start in the next two months after the installation of relevant software and training of drivers, while the tracks and stations had already been completed. “This is the first project under the Karachi Transformation Plan, while five other mega-projects are underway,” Umar added. He revealed that the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) would likely give its final approval to the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) in its meeting on Monday and the prime minister was expected to perform the groundbreaking of the project himself. The KCR will initially provide transport facilities to 450,000 passengers daily, gradually catering to the needs of up to one million passengers. Umar said three major road projects on Orangi, Gujjar and Mehmoodabad Nullahs spread over 54km were expected to be completed soon where concrete walls would also be erected. -- Dawn

Ex PD Benazir Bhutto uni Larkana taken into custody

ICMD, Sep 19, 2021: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has taken into custody the former Project Director of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Medical University Larkana. Engr. Abdul Waheed Mangi is alleged to have been involved in corruption of worth Rs400 million in the construction works of the University. After picking his up FIA has shifted Mangi to Sukkur. ایف آئی اے سکھر نے رات گئے لاڑکانہ میں کارروائی کرتے ہوئے شہید بےنظیر بھٹو میڈیکل یونیورسٹی کے سابق پروجیکٹ ڈائریکٹر انجینئر عبدالوحید منگی کو گرفتار کرلیا۔ گرفتار ہونے والے انجینئر عبدالوحید منگی پر یونیورسٹی کی تعمیر میں 40 کروڑ روپے بدعنوانی کا الزام ہے۔ ایف آئی اے کا کہنا ہے کہ ملزم کو سکھر منتقل کردیا گیا، پیر کو عدالت میں پیش کیا جائے گا۔

Hot and humid weather forecast for Karachi till Sept 14, temperatures to 39 degrees Celsius

ICMD, Sep 12, 2021: The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) on Sunday issued a hot and humid weather forecast for Karachi till Sept 14, predicting that temperatures could rise up to 39 degrees Celsius. In its weather outlook, the PMD said, "yesterday's low over Rajasthan has shifted to east with its trough extending westwards." As a result, isolated rains, along with thunderstorms, were likely to occur in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar and Badin, it said. Meanwhile, Karachi would experience hot and humid weather, with the minimum temperature expected to be 26°C while the maximum temperature could go up to 39 degrees Celsius. Sindh experienced its first heatwave of the season at the end of March, followed by a second in April during which the temperature in the metropolis soared to 43.6°C. According to the Met department, it was the hottest day of April in 18 years in Karachi, which experienced heatwave-like conditions for almost a week. The city again experienced hot weather in May under the influence of the cyclonic storm Tauktae when the temperature rose to 43.5°C. In 2015, Karachi experienced the deadliest heatwave Pakistan had seen in over 50 years. Starting June 19 that year, the coastal city witnessed sweltering heat that continued for more than five days and in its wake left over 1,200 people dead and 40,000 suffering from heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Asad Umar opposes proposal to collect KMC taxes through electricity bills

ICMD, Sep 11, 2021: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday opposed the Sindh government's proposal to collect taxes on behalf of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) through electricity bills, saying the federal government would not allow it. “I have spoken to Energy Minister Hammad Azhar regarding this matter and we will not permit the collection of taxes through power bills,” said the minister, while speaking to the media in Karachi. On Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had unveiled the provincial government's plan to collect two taxes on behalf of the KMC — fire tax and conservancy tax — from the citizens of Karachi through the monthly K-Electric bill. Shah had said that Rs100 and Rs200 would be charged respectively from two categories of consumers [to be carved by the provincial administration] in the KE bill. The chief minister had said that he was working to strengthen Karachi's local bodies financially so that they could serve citizens from their own resources. During today's conference, Umar said there were discrepancies in the last census held in Karachi in 2017, and recalled that the Council of Common Interests had also acknowledged these concerns. He said the government would now use "digital technology" for the census. "We had constituted a team of experts and they have completed their consultations on the matter," he said. The minister said that the Ministry of Information and Technology, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, National Database and Registration Authority, National Telecom Corporation and Suparco will be taken on board during the process. "We don't want any discrepancies. We will keep the census transparent," he said. He also pointed out that water supply was another major issue for Karachiites, adding that work on the K-IV project was expected to start in Feb 2022.