Stop funding new fossil fuel projects

Zarish Fatima

Sufficient amount of Electricity is essential for a country’s industrial growth, transport, development, agricultural improvements, research, healthcare and general well-being of its inhabitants. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) surely has a promising future for all the electricity outages in Pakistan. But the downside is that multiple projects of the CPEC are fossil fuel driven, posing a major threat to the environment. Rahim Yar Khan Power Plant is one such coal driven plant based on imported coal, which gets transported from Karachi port.
Although burning of fossil fuels have saved unlimited time, labour cost and raised the standards of living. But it all comes at a huge cost of global warming, environmental pollution and causing detrimental health effects and disasters, affecting those who are least responsible for the pollution; the poor people. Rahim Yar Khan project should be stopped since its using coal which is damaging our environment and the coal is imported thus straining our economy too.
Pakistan is facing energy crises and its estimated that it must double its energy production in 5 to 7 years to meet the needs.
To cater the needs of a developing nation, China came up with several power generation projects which are a part of CPEC. Out of 21 urgent Power production plans: 9 are coal-fired power plants, 7 are wind Power plants, 3 are hydropower plants and the remaining 2 are High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Transmission Line projects. Rahim Yar Khan Project is basically not the required project in Punjab region, the geographical location is absurd.
The imported coal needs to be transported all the way from Karachi sea port to Rahim Yar Khan via railways, thus straining the railway and causing pollution on its way.
It should have been built near sources of coal like Thar or near the sea port and the generated electricity would have been supplied to other parts of Pakistan. This was an economical and environmental friendly option. On the other hand, importing coal is another burden on the economy of a striving nation which already has ample sources of coal available within the country. It is useless to blame any government here, it just needs prompt action of the current head of state so that the project can be stopped. Only 15% of the work is completed and the project is still in the feasibility stages, thus it can be ceased easily before it is initiated.
The current need of Pakistan is roughly about 11000 MW of power out of which almost 8000 MW (approximately 70%) of the produced energy will be derived from coal-a major source of Carbon release, also mercury, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, mercury, selenium and arsenic.
This leads to climate changes leading to floods in northern parts of Pakistan. Due to the recurring floods Pakistani people face economic losses and healthcare issues every year.
According to the data provided by Reuters, “almost half of Pakistan’s 5,000 glaciers, covering around 15,000 square kilometres, are in rapid retreat and the rate of melting glaciers has increased by 23 percent which is among the fastest in the world”.
When interviewed one of the residents of Gilgit, Saifulmalook told us that, “life was miserable as many houses submerged in water and new lakes formed due to floods and there was an outbreak of many diseases”. Imagine the results of these coal fired projects in Punjab province which is usually smog enveloped during winters.
It was very painful to witness children going to school wearing face masks last year. Moreover, there was a widespread occurrence of respiratory diseases in Punjab.
Our neighbours like China is already suffering a lot from the impacts of coal fired energy. Investing so much capital on such projects will be very damaging to the nation.
Urban cities of Pakistan are already water and air polluted. With initiation of so many coal powered projects and non-adherence to environmental precautions, the situations will worsen affecting our planet and next generations.
To reduce the energy imports and pollution, a major initiative for renewable energy may be launched which may benefit the people and help to eradicate pollution or cease it. There are many sources of renewable energy which needs to be explored by us.
They are a cheap alterative and a sustainable approach like geothermal power, hydropower, solar power and wind power. Pakistan is an agricultural country and utilization of agricultural waste should be made to produce energy like biogas.
I request the government officials to please consider all the facts mentioned above and cease the Rahim Yar Khan Project and several such Fossil Fuel Driven Projects for the sake of Our environment and people.

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