Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated two coal-fired power plants in Tharparker with a capacity of 1,650 megawatt of electricity generation, saying the projects would eventually transform the desert into an economic hub.
The projects including the 1,320 megawatt Shanghai Electric power plant and 330 MW Thal Nova power plant will annually generate 11.24 billion units of low-cost electricity. Through the direct investment of $3.53 billion into these projects, the production of coal-based electricity in Thar will increase up to 3,300 MW.
Addressing the launching event at the Islamkot area of Thar, the prime minister said it was a moment of celebration for the entire country that the desert of Tharparker was getting a source of basic facilities for life.
He dismissed the criticism by a section of people against Thar's coal, terming it a blessing with immense potential for power resources that needed to be tapped.
He expressed confidence that the journey of progress would spread across the country and would strengthen the national economy.
The projects, which were abandoned during the last four years, are being made operational on the directive of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said by April 30, the 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 Government of China for extending support to Pakistan in carrying out development projects under the CPEC.
He vowed that the coalition government would put in all efforts to materialize the CPEC projects, with the agriculture sector as its next phase.
He announced a hospital for the people of Tharparker to provide them with medical facilities at their doorsteps.
The prime minister said no one was above the law and would not be allowed to support terrorists and use them as shields. Condemning Tuesday's terrorist incidents that targeted military personnel, he said the malicious agenda of the enemies of Pakistan would be foiled.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the project could be materialized 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 over carrying out development projects, which he said had resulted in the improvement of health and educational facilities.
Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastagir said the pluralist government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was committed to providing civic amenities to the people across the country.
He said under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the development of indigenous resources was a big step towards self-reliance and was also valuable in terms of foreign exchange of the country.
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 the government of 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.