Economics & Business

Economic Zone to be set up in Thar: Farooqi

ISLAMABD: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr. Salman Farooqi has said that Pakistan was planning to set up Special Economic Zones in Thar area so that in future surplus energy from Thar Coal reserves might be used in the close vicinity without incurring transmission line losses. In his inaugural address, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Mr. Salman Farooqi said that the Thar Coal Board had already been constituted in this regard.

He there was need for bringing together policy planners from the energy, environment, health and transportation sectors from all SAARC Member States to deliberate and discuss recent developments in their respective countries and analyze how these developments would impact the sectoral policies.

He said that SAARC countries need sufficient energy, good health, pollution free environment and better transport system, and to address all these issues, appropriate integration and correlation was required at policy making level.

Deputy Chairman said that Pakistan was already working on how to reduce dependence on imported fuel and to increase reliance on domestic resources like water and coal reserves.

He said that last year US$ 11bn were spent on import of oil which was equal to 65 percent of the total export of Pakistan. This was one of the major reasons Pakistan had to go to IMF for financial assistance, he added. He was of the view that Pakistan, by harnessing its water and coal resources, could not only meet its domestic energy requirements, but also export the surplus energy to the Indian States adjacent to Thar area of Pakistan.

Deputy Chairman gave a brief overview of Bhasha Dam that would produce 4500 MW of electricity and other 28 small dams being planned to be constructed with the help of private investment. In Pakistan, he stated, 40 percent of total power generation was being carried out by private sector.

He stated that one of the major roles of the Planning Commission was to encourage private sector investment and it had already constituted a Task Force on Private Sector Development. Mr. Farooqi said that Pakistan was encouraging private sector to invest in alternative energy resources and informed that Pakistan’s first wind power plant would start working in the next three weeks.

Mr. Farooqi underlined the need to assess all the sectoral national policies like energy, environment, health and transport and to come up with an integrated energy policy aimed at minimizing all negative effects resulted from dis-aggregated sectoral policies including energy policy.

In his welcome address, Mr. Hilal A. Raza, Director SAARC Energy Center, Islamabad, informed that this Conference was one of the six program activities of the SAARC Energy Center for this year aimed at learning from experiences of SAARC member states in cross-sectoral implications of energy use that had grown at a high rate during the last decade as result of economic upturn of South Asia.

He said that it was estimated that energy consumption in South Asia would double in ten years and such a growth merited prudent assessment of its implications on other sectors of the economy.

Dr. Toufiq Raza, President Global Environment and Energy in the 21st Century urged the planners to examine the linkages and develop coordinated policies for energy, transportation, and many aspects of human health. He said it was important to ensure that policies in one of these sectors do not adversely affect those designed to achieve improvements in the other sectors.

Four technical sessions will be conducted during the Conference and at the end, a special group would formulate a set of recommendations with regard to policy making in a holistic manner. This effort is expected to result in integrated policy planning, including improved energy efficiency, and supporting other policy initiatives in the SAARC region. The conference was attended by the representatives of the SAARC countries and relevant government ministries/ divisions.-SANA

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Hasan Saleem

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