THE Pakistan government has ambitious
plans to tap coal reserves under the vast
expanses of the Thar desert, but environmentalists warn that unfettered
development could do more.harm. than good. In its enthusiasm to capitalise on
the interest shown by foreign investors
in cheaply a'v'ailable coal, the government is completely ignoring environ-
Engineers say open pit or strip mining is the only type of mining technically feasible in the region; unfortunately, they can also destroy the landscape, vegetation and habitat by s removing precious topsoil. Besides, coal-fired thermal plants are known to be among the environmentally most harmful of power options.
Since a sizeable portion of the coal reserves are located below permanent human settlements and archaeological sites, environmentalists and conservationists fear largescale displacement of the population and possible destruction of historical monuments.
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