Say No to Coal-Fired Power Plants in Balochistan

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Tania Baloch
Lasbela is the district of Balochistan where many large and small companies are present. These range from refineries to biscuit manufacturing companies.
According to international law, whenever a company starts its business somewhere it has to formulate its policies according to the law of the land. They have to determine that how they will fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).
Unfortunately, in case of Lasbela all the small and large companies have badly failed in fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibilities.
On 19th January 2015, Hub Power Company (HUBCO) announced that it would set up 1,320 Megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plants next to its thermal power station in Hub, Lasbela. These would be two plants of 660 MW each and would be completed by mid-2016.
Hub
Hub town
Coal-fired power plants project planned in Hub by HUBCO will make life difficult for the local people of the area who have already suffered a lot due to air pollution caused by oil refineries and power generation companies.
International Scenario
It’s pertinent to mention that World Bank and other financial institutions have stopped funding of Coal-fired power plants.  Main reason of stoppage of funds is the report of World Health Organization (WHO) which states the fatal illnesses can be caused by harmful emissions of coal-fired plants. Detailed report of WHO also mentions that by adapting safety measures the risks can be mitigated by they can’t be totally eliminated.

Fatal illnesses can be caused by harmful emissions of coal-fired plants – WHO report

Coal-fired power plants cause different illnesses which affect the respiratory and cardiovascular system as well as cause abnormal neurological development in children, poor growth of fetus before birth, which is common in Balochistan, lungs and liver cancer.
According to a World Bank report, 750,000 people die prematurely every year in China due to air pollution.
According to a report published by China’s National Bureau of Statistics states that 90 percent of air pollution in 161 cities of China is caused due to coal-fired power plants and cement factories. Same report states that apart from Beijing and Shanghai, a lot of other big cities of China suffer from heavy air pollution and this was evident during the last Olympic Games held in China in year 2008.

90 percent of air pollution in 161 cities of China is caused due to coal-fired power plants

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an active agency which ensures protection of environment in USA. EPA has stressed on many countries of the world, including European countries, to discourage the use of Coal-fired plants due to the heavy damage that they cause to environment.
Recent session of International Environmental Agency (IEA) was held in Paris. In this session member countries stressed on China to shut down the coal plants as soon as possible. Concluding remarks of this session state that “The Paris talks were the first admission that age of fossil fuels is coming to an end and this report is another nail in coal’s coffin.”
China has gradually started the process of shutting down its coal plants and replacing them with Gas fired plants.

Paris talks were the first admission that age of fossil fuels is coming to an end and this report is another nail in coal’s coffin – IEA

Last week, ambassador of Netherland, in a meeting in Karachi, termed the place of Gaddani ideal for wind and solar power generation. There is a trend in the world to use sources of energy which are friendly for environment. However in case of Pakistan, we are still going for the environmentally catastrophic coal-fired power plants.
Why Coal-fired power Plants in Balochistan?
Now, the question arises that when coal-fired power plants are being replaced all over the world due to the loss that they cause to Environment, then why such plants are being set up in already impoverished Hub?
People of Goth Shah Dost Sasoli, Lasbela
People of Goth Shah Dost Sasoli, Lasbela
In Pakistan coal plants have been announced in different cities such as Thar, Jamshoro and Karachi but why Hub is the first city where this environmentally dangerous project is being launched?
Bottom Line
Unfortunately, the case of coal-fired plant in Hub has been politicized by people who have their vested interests attached with it.
Those companies who did not do anything for people of Hub in last 25 years what they will give to people now with the environmentally destructive coal plants?
It’s the time when all those people who have any stake in Hub and Lasbela should come on one page to prevent the establishment of coal-fired power plants which would destroy the environment and render irreparable loss to the people.
Writer is Editor-in-Chief of Balochistan Inside Magazine.
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