KARACHI – In its fifth annual budget, the Sindh government has allocated Rs13.585 billion to the 4000 MW Thar coal project that would start functioning by 2015-16. In this respect, an MoU was signed between the Sindh government and China’s Global Mining Company in September last year, under which power generation would commence in 2014.Sindh Minister for Finance Murad Ali Shah, while presenting the budget, said the government had started work on mega projects to facilitate investors and to create a conducive environment for large-scale projects at Thar coalfield.Highlighting the importance of coal, he said that this fossil fuel has been globally recognised as a substantial source of energy, and many countries depended on coal today for their energy needs. The potential of Thar coal was first recognised by Benazir Bhutto, but unfortunately, in subsequent years, this asset was ignored and exploitation over it abandoned due to the malevolent mindset that sought to intentionally waste this remarkable resource and deprived the people. In view of energy shortage faced by the country, development of Thar coal has been a central policy agenda for the present government.Infrastructure has been the biggest challenge for successful execution of the project. The GMC intends to invest $1.5 billion on key infrastructure projects in Thar coalfield. Proposed for the next financial year, major schemes and infrastructure projects included, Rs 654 million for construction of Islamkot air strip, development of GIS for Thar coalfield, installation of reverse osmosis plants across Tharparkar, Mithi and Islamkot areas.