ISLAMABAD, Nov 4 (Pakistan Point News - APP - 04th Nov, 2016 ) : The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company Limited (SECMC) has pledged its commitment to provide socio economic opportunities to the people of Thar - specifically the communities that host the Thar coal project. In the recent past there have been some reports of protests by some members of the community, but the Company was hopeful that they would be able to resolve the grievances of these members through favorable policies, said a statement issued by the Company here Friday.
The statement said that some members of the community have shared reservations regarding the progress of the project specially in the wake of the construction of water reservoir at Ghurano and SECMC was cognizant of these concerns. The Company reiterated that all due concerns of the local population would be given importance and in this regard, the Company has already commenced work as per the lucrative land compensation policy announced by the Government of Sindh to provide rightful land owners with compensation against the land owned at Ghurano, in addition to construction of schools, hospitals and provision of merit-based jobs.
Shamsuddin Shaikh - CEO SECMC in the statement said that the progress on the SECMC project was in full swing and "we are working towards alleviating the issues that some individuals in the local community have reservations regarding the construction of the water reservoir." He said that many members from the same community have appreciated the efforts of the Company and have even accepted the land award policy and received the due payments; however, some members have concerns which "we are willing to address together with all concerned parties including public representatives.
" Furthermore, he said "we have also received instructions from the honorable CM Sindh - who is a keen supporter of the project - to resolve the concerns of some of the community members in the best interests of the people." It is important to highlight that while this project was of national importance, it was equally significant for people of Thar who are already benefitting by provision of better socio-economic prospects owing to the project.
"We have already provided employment to locals which constitute more than 50% of our workforce at various levels; have improved access to water and better health care for their families and livestock and have plans to continue to invest more in the land and its people," he remarked The Ghurano water reservoir is being constructed on a total land area of approximately 1500 acres, out of which 532 acres are private land owned by local populace.
In this regard, a land award has been announced on October 27, 2016 and so far, SECMC has made payment of approximately Rs. 33.5 million to the rightful owners for 110 acres of the private land. Furthermore, the water in the reservoir would be used for bio- saline agriculture which will potentially irrigate vast areas of Thar. In this regard the Company is in talks with Chinese Agricultural Sciences institutes for assistance and technology transfer for the venture.
In addition, the Company is cognizant of its social responsibility towards the Ghurano community and plans to install 5 Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants in the area to allow for easy access and provision of clean drinking water to the local communities. To date, one RO plant has been successfully constructed and is fully functional whilst 4 other RO plants are under construction with full support and help from the local community. Furthermore, as mentioned above, on the issue of local employment, the Company has a clear mission to employ half of its workforce from Thar and the Company is already fulfilling this objective.
In close collaboration and strong community mobilization various programmes and initiatives have been instituted to provide employment opportunities to the local population and meetings for the same have been conducted in various villages in Block II of Thar and Ghurano to encourage the local community to apply for training and employment. In addition, an employment centre titled "Khushaal Thar" is functional at the site office in Ghurano where locals can register for employment and training. SECMC deems it as its responsibility to work in alliance with the locals of the community, which the Company believes should be the first to partake in any benefits that result from the Thar coal project and without whose support progress on this critical project would remain impossible.