Sindh Coal Authority abolition

BY DR ALI AKBAR M. DHAKAN, Karachi
Courtesy & Thanks: 18th July 2008 Dawn letters
THE federal cabinet’s decision of setting up the ‘Thar Coal Authority’ by abolishing the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA), a statutory body, through a notification, as reported on Business and Economic pages of Dawn (July 12), is a blow to provincial autonomy.

It is no secret that advancement, if any, could not be made for exploiting Thar coal for energy, it was the meddling of the federal government and its blue-eyed Wapda that was responsible and not the provincial government or the SCA.

The federal government’s scrapping of the deal, arrived at during the Benazir government, with Hong Kong-based tycoon Gordon Wu to develop the huge plant at Keti Bander, 90km east of Karachi, is one such example.

Wu’s Consolidated Electric Power Asia Ltd (CEPA) was about to launch a project of 1,320-megawatt plant, the first part of a 5,280-MW project costing about $6 billion, when Benazir was outwitted of power and such a valuable project which could have by now changed the destiny of the nation was aborted.

Similarly, treatment meted out by the federal government to Shenhua Group Corporation, a Chinese company, to roll back its $1.5 billion investment plan — after the company had shipped heavy machinery for drilling coal in Thar — on the rate issue is another case in point. I agree with your reporter, Sabihuddin Ghausi, that coal is a provincial subject and, therefore, abolishing the SCA, a body created by statute to deal with ‘Thar coal’, is like killing of the soul of provincial autonomy.

At this critical time in the history of the country when the present government itself has emphasisd the need for devolving autonomy to the provinces in order to resolve the long-festering inter-provincial and federal-provincial disputes, such decisions will rather be cause for creating more mistrust between the federation and the units.

I hope the Sindh government should approach the federal authorities for clarification.

The prime minister is also requested to take legislators of the Sindh Assembly, a representative body of the province, into confidence before implementing the said decision.

DR ALI AKBAR M. DHAKAN
Karachi

Courtesy & Thanks: 18th July 2008 Dawn letters

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