Thar Coal: potential for Indo-Pakistan Collaboration
There has been a long held desire in
Lack of availability of suitable projects has also been one of the reasons inhibiting economic cooperation among the two countries. Efforts have been made, in the past and continue to be so, towards building a project portfolio for possible collaboration, if and when political environment improves. SAARC project fund has been commissioning such studies. Reportedly, there is a SAARC energy initiative as well, headquartered in
Thar Coal and its vast deposits , apart from meeting Pakistan’s energy requirements, may have a potential for building and expanding regional economic cooperation .There are a number of possibilities such as; a)export of Thar coal to coal deficit adjoining states of Rajhastan and Gujrat ;b) India assisting Pakistan in developing and exploiting Thar coal resource; c) India installing coal –fired power plants in its border towns ,and exporting electricity to Pakistan produced by Pakistan exported Thar coal. Let me explain and analyze these propositions a bit.
Reluctance of western countries with coal is increasing. International financing agencies are under pressure from environmental lobbies not to fund and assist such projects. Chinese appear to be reluctant as well, as reportedly; numerous attempts to revive their interest in Thar have failed. They still appear to have bitter memories from their past involvement in it and the uncooperative conduct of WAPDA that was manifested by the later.
Secondly, exports of Thar coal to
The third proposition is rather unique, ambitious and extremely profitable, all at the same time. The detail is, that
Similar ideas have been put forward earlier as well. There were proposals for exporting electricity to
Easier said than done, but it can be feasible. As for the security concerns, of large volume of goods transport and human traffic, Thar is a far-off town. Indian nationals may be allowed to come to Thar only through land route or a future direct flight from to and fro Thar. It may remain as good as domestic travel for them. Special immigration rules and status can be created for Thar coal projects. There is no major security installation or threat nearby. So security issues can be managed.
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