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1,200 megawatts plant at Gaddani: Balochistan promises security for Chinese

The Balochistan government has promised to extend complete security to the Chinese nationals working on the 1200 mw coal-fired power plant, to be set up at Gaddani, official sources told Business Recorder. In this regard, the Balochistan Chief Minister has written a letter to the Chinese Ambassador and appreciated Chinese support in the province.

"(The) government of Balochistan appreciates the Chinese investment through AES Pvt Ltd in Balochistan with regard to setting up a 1200 mw coal-fired power plant in Gaddani," sources quoted from a letter written by the provincial home and tribal affairs department to the federal government. Balochistan government is of the view that Gaddani is a safe place, as the Hub Power Company 1200 MW power plant and Bosicor Refinery are already operating in nearby locations for many years. However, the provincial government is fully committed to providing all kinds of assistance in terms of security-related issues and would extend full co-operation to the AES company to encourage Chinese investment in the larger public interest.

"The provincial government welcomes the Chinese investment related activities in Balochistan so as to ensure resources are utilised for uplift of the standard of common people in Balochistan and assures its all-out support to AES," sources added.

Earlier in the meeting, it was stated that China had declared Balochistan a 'no-go area' for its nationals, due to which development work on a number of projects had been stalled. In 2007, PPIB had advertised the integrated 1000-1200 mw imported coal-based power projects near Karachi.

After the evaluation process, two companies, AES Pakistan Pvt Ltd and Mitsui & Co, were issued Letters of Interest (LoI) for conduct of feasibility study for two mutually exclusive projects. Both sponsors conducted their independent site surveys and identified the area on the southern boundary of Gaddani ship breaking yard as the most suitable location to set up the projects. Subsequently, Mitsui withdrew due to financial crunch. AES is still pursuing the project. But the progress is slow due to security issues and the travel advisory issued by the Chinese Embassy in Karachi.

According to AES representative, Sheikh Iqbal, although all Balochistan was a no-go area for Chinese personnel pursuant to an advisory issued by the Chinese embassy in Karachi yet the area around Hub Chowki had a higher threat level. He has proposed that if a 100-metre bridge is built on Hub river and a new road is built from Hawkes Bay Karachi through Goth Lakwari Fork, Darn Doh Bakr, Chattar crossing, Hub River crossing, Goth Abbas up to the project site in Balochistan, it would provide the shortest exit from the site in Balochistan to Karachi.

He also presented a security plan which proposed that 85 FC personnel be deployed for the 12 km long route protection, starting from Sindh side of Hub river to project site, with 15 pickets on the route. The site would be protected by an outer cordon of FC comprising 26 personnel. Total employment of FC would be 111 personnel. In addition to FC, there will also be an inner cordon for site protection, manned by private security guards. The number of private security guards would also be 111.

Regarding protection on the sea side, AES proposed two coast guard pickets on either side of the site on seaside, while original check post of Coast Guards would remain operative in the middle of project site. Coast Guards authorities consented to the proposal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2010