Rail Road Can Address Hazardous Dumping of Coal in Karachi

The government needs to work on swift and bulk transportation of coal in order to avoid its unnecessary temporary storage that is becoming threat for environment and localities.

It has been reported that importers are dumping the coal in the surrounding areas of Port Qasim and since the import of coal is increasing with the passage of time it is becoming a continuous threat.[the_ad id=”32940″]Due to increasing consumption of coal in industries, the coal is being imported in huge quantity at Port Qasim and it is expected that Pakistan will import 20 million tons of coal in 2018-19, more than double the country’s consumption from a few years ago.

Around 8.0 million tons of coal is imported by cement companies every year, while 12 million tons is imported by power plants including Sahiwal Power Plant and Port Qasim power plants. The demand by cement manufacturers is estimated to increase by 2.0 million tons, while additional 8.0 million tons would be required by coal-based power plants by 2020, making Pakistan’s demand of coal to surge to 30 million tons/annum by the year 2020.

“This trend will further extend as more expansion of cement manufacturers and coal-based power plants is scheduled in the years to come. This enormous increase in the demand calls for safe and environment-friendly handling of coal at ports and its efficient transportation,” said an industry expert while commenting on coal usage in the industries.

“While a major chunk of coal import and handling has already been moved from Karachi Port Trust to Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) at Port Qasim on the orders of Supreme Court for environment friendly and mechanized handling, the infrastructure for safe and environment friendly transportation of coal to the factories is still lacking,” he added saying that it is a major source of concern for the importers.

Northern region of the country consumes about 60 percent of the imported coal and safe and efficient mode of transportation will be to use railways track directly from port, to reduce environmental issues and transportation costs.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan Railways in 2017 supported this idea but the work never materialized despite that railways can increase its revenue by doing so as it did earlier for the Sahiwal cargo.

A Coal Importer said that the usage of coal at factories and its transportation through road network is an area of concern and government should look into it.

“The expected bulk of coal import would be a big challenge for authorities in the coming years,” he said, adding that the government needs to facilitate transportation of coal coming to the country to its destinations as soon as possible.

He said that the best environmentally and economically sound method of inland transportation of coal is through Rail connectivity to the coal terminal in Port Qasim.

“The coal being dumped in unapproved yards at Port Qasim area for rail loading would be eliminated if proper Rail connectivity is made to PIBT Terminal as Pakistan Railways is already connected to PQA Marginal Wharf for Sahiwal Power Plant coal terminal,” he reasoned.

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