Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Coal in Kotli exploited by Pakistan, Dr Shabir Choudhry
Coal in Kotli exploited by Pakistan, Dr Shabir Choudhry
13 November 2013
State of Jammu and Kashmir is occupied by more than one country and our natural resources are exploited by all of them. In my last article on the subject of economic exploitation, ‘Our Green Gold exploited by Pakistan’ I provided details how Pakistan is making millions of dollars annually from so called Azad Kashmir from our forests.
A few days ago it was discussed in the social media that Pakistan is also taking out coal from Kotli district of Azad Kashmir. Dr Aftab Hussain asserted that he has seen trucks loaded with coal and leaving the area. Also someone pointed that why is that we people are unaware of what are our natural resources and what goes on in this small territory called Azad Kashmir.
First thing to remember is that research and studies are sponsored by different government departments and universities in independent countries; and as we are not independent and the government imposed on us is there to care for interests of Islamabad and not to investigate about our resources and how they are exploited by those who occupy us.
Some years ago when Neelum Jhelum Hydroelectric Project was at its initial stages, a local environmentalist pointed out what negative impact this project will have on the local people; and what environmental impact this will have on the region. In the evening he had two visits: one visit was from the ISI men and the second from the officials of Military Intelligence. Both teams categorically told him to shut his mouth or else they will have to do it. He was warned of very serious consequences to him and his family.
Tragedy is that whoever investigates or exposes Pakistan’s imperialist designs on Kashmir is castigated as ‘anti Pakistan’, ‘anti Islam’, ‘anti Kashmir’ and an ‘Indian agent’; and no one can survive politically and physically in Jammu and Kashmir with these tags. Pakistani officials, their secret agencies, their proxies and some ‘nationalists’ who act as their B team get activated to propagate against the concern person; and that not only corner the concerned person but also deter others to speak against the Pakistani policies.
Anyhow, the concerned environmentalist, later on contacted me and explained the situation; and I wrote three articles of various aspects of the Neelam Jhelum Hydroelectric Project which is located near Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Administered Kashmir. It aims to dig a tunnel and divert water of Neelam River from Nauseri, about 41 KM East of Muzaffarabad. A Powerhouse will be constructed at Chatter Kalas, 22 Km South of Muzaffarabad; and after passing through the turbines the water will be released in Jhelum River, about 4 Km South of Chatter Kalas. Once completed, the Neelum Jhelum Hydroelectric Project will produce 969 MW of electricity annually; and will 100% benefit Pakistan whereas we will have to put up with its negative impact.
This diversion of River Neelam will have very serious impact on environment of the area, as it plays a key role in the configuration of the Himalayan ecosystem. Environmental groups have expressed their concerns about prospective environmental hazards on local economy and biodiversity. The project will also have serious impact on the habitat of various rare species considered on the verge of extinction. Developmental activities in the area and other changes will surely have negative impact on the natural habitat of wildlife.
Anyhow, coming back to the topic of coal mining, it must be pointed out that under the Act 74, rulers of so called Azad Kashmir have no right to do many things which independent countries or even provinces do and that includes coal mining. And according to the State Subject laws no Pakistani can purchase any land in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan (similarly no Indian can buy any land in Jammu and Kashmir); but they openly contravene these laws and purchase or use Kashmiri territory for projects which only benefit Pakistan.
To acquire land in AJK, either they forge domicile or set up a proxy or a subsidiary company, as was done in this case. Pakistan through its subsidiary, AJK Mining Company (PVT) Ltd, acquired for United Coal, 100-per-cent interest in a 2,230-acre thermal coal property and an application for an additional 200 square kilometres within the Kotli coal district, State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K), Pakistan. (See 43-101 for property report) United Coal has hired Mr Muhammad Khalid Pervaiz, a Pakistan resident, as Managing Director of its subsidiary.
It is interesting that Mr Muhammad Khalid Pervaiz will get all the support, technical or otherwise, from Azad Kashmir Mineral and Industrial Development Corporation (AKMIDC) which was established in 1971, through an Act of AJ&K Legislative Assembly, by the Government of AJ&K. However, as always, all the benefit will go to Pakistan.
The Corporation was assigned a number of tasks which include identification of ‘exploration targets for commercial exploitation. The project is presently being assessed for the potential of near-term coal production’. Although Pakistan due to its bad planning, lack of commitment and inefficiency does not fully benefit from its coal reserves, but fact is that Pakistan ranks seventh among the top 20 countries of the world so far as coal reserves are concerned. ‘Pakistan's coal reserves are 97-per-cent lignite rank, and vast deposits of these occur in the AJK and Thar areas’.
There are a number of places where the coal reserves are discovered in district Kotli, for example, Khui Rata, Kamroti, Nakial, Karela, Dandil, Dhanwan, Gooyees, and Narali. One can assume that other areas of Azad Kashmir could also have coal reserves. In view of experts the coal produced from Kotli is better quality than what is produced in mines of Pakistan in Chakwaal and Chua Saidan Shah. Coal produced from Chakwaal has only 43% of Carbon ratio, and ratio of Chua Saidaan Shah has only 10%; whereas the coal produced from Kotli has 97% Carbon ratio according to one report; but the other report puts this ratio at 70%.
However, both reports confirm that the coal from Kotli is of very good quality having low sulphur and high heat value.Because of its high quality, the coal from Kotli is of export quality, and highly suitable for industrial consumption including metallurgical coke, brick kiln and the cement industry.
Coal is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide; and countries with coal reserves reduce their reliance on imported oil, hence save huge amount of money. Since Pakistan is not effectively using its coal reserves, the country has to rely on other sources of energy for industrial and domestic requirements.
AJK is rich in mineral resources. Apart from Coal there are reserves of Limonite, Morley Lime, Magnetic Oxide, Graphite, Marble, Gypsum, Pyrite, Soap Stone, Uranium, Feldspar, Bauxite, China Clay, Ruby, MYCA, Quartzite, Fire Clay, Bentonite and Sapphire etc.
More than 5990 million tonnes (Mt) of hard coal is currently produced worldwide annually. Also 913 million tonnes of brown coal/lignite is produced. The top five hard coal producers are China, the USA, India, Australia and Indonesia. Most global coal production is used in the country in which it is produced; and only around 16% of hard coal production is destined for the international coal markets.
However, we can say with certainty that people of Kotli or Azad Kashmir will not use this coal produced from Kotli. It will be mined and used by the country that occupies us – Pakistan; and we will only face with the negative impact of coal mining and transportation.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs Affairs.