China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) is one of the largest state-owned enterprises in China. It is headquartered in Beijing and was founded in 1978 as China’s first engineering and trading company. Its core business is engineering contracting but it also deals with international trade, service, investment, and R&D. CMEC is capable of providing a customized one-stop solution to its customers and has already expanded its business into 47 countries around the world.
The Thar coalfield is located in the Thar Desert, Tharparkar District of Sindh province in Pakistan. As a result of widespread drilling over an area of 9,000 km², a total of 175 billion tons of coal resource potential have been assessed – equivalent to total oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran combined, which can be used to produce 100,000 MW for 300 years.
Over the years, CMEC has invested in Thar projects over 200 million USD. The deposits, which are the sixteenth-largest coal reserves in the world, were discovered in 1991. However, due to the harsh environment, technical difficulties and funding issues, it was in 2016 that the exploration and utilization of Thar Coal started by seizing the opportunity of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), acting as both owner and EPC contractor of Thar Coal Block-II project, is to build one indigenous coal mine with an annual production capacity of 3.8 million tons and a mine-mouth 2×330 MW power plant. This project is the first large scale coal-based power generation project in Pakistan, and can prove to be a game-changer for the country.
It will not only address the severe power shortage crisis but also make the country secure in terms of meeting its energy needs for the future. Thar is backward district where the villages are suffering from poverty, sickness, drought and water crisis. The corporation, after bearing witness to the difficult situation of the local villagers, decided to work for the betterment of the
Employment and Training
CMEC is giving priority to employing Tharis, giving them a reasonable salary and respectable positions. 2473 Tharis were hired out of a total of 3462 employees, constituting a percentage of 71%. In an unprecedented development, females were also allowed to drive heavy vehicles, currently, 28 female drivers are in employment. As local Tharis have never worked in any industry, they lack the requisite skills for construction, therefore CMEC conducted various trainings.
A Mentor-Mentee Program was launched where seven Chinese foremen were selected as mentors and sixteen local labor as mentees, in 6 months they were taught some basic construction skills like rebar binding, masonry, and plastering. A driving training center was also set up to train local Tharis to drive mining dumping trucks, light trucks, and compact cars.
Thousands of drivers have already been trained. After testing, they are now able to be directly recruited. CMEC is also working alongside Pakistani professional training institutes like DTI, AmanTECH, and Hunar Foundation to have locals trained for scaffolding, masonry, steel fixing, pipe fitting and driving. Outside the plant area, those who pass the training completion test are eligible for employment at the plant.
Benefits for Local Employees
The company adheres to Pakistan’s laws and regulations. With the vision to improve the lives of the people of Thar, the bank accounts have been opened for nearly all the employees of CMEC for the first time. Meanwhile, employees are given timely leaves/ holidays, food and clothing, life and old-age benefits insurance is also offered to employees.
Education Environment & Resources
Together with the co-owners of the Thar Coal project, CMEC is planning to build twenty schools and introduces better-quality education in Thar. In this regard, TCF Islamkot Campus for primary and secondary school and Bitra Village School have been constructed to provide a better standard of education to the local students.
Twelve local Thari university graduates were sent for higher education to North China Electric Power University and LN Technical University in China for a Master’s degree in electrical and mechanical engineering as well as mining and geology.
Thar Trainee Engineers and Associate Engineering Programs were also launched to apprise the local students of the running of the plant, as operators and maintenance engineers. Some trainings were conducted in China, while others in running power plants across Pakistan.
Health is the basic requirement of all people, however, the medical condition in Thar is very poor and the death rate of infants and children is much higher than in other areas of Pakistan. CMEC, in collaboration with the Government of Sindh, Shahid Afridi Foundation and others, arranged to set up Indus Hospital with 82 beds in Islamkot. The construction is underway.
Additionally, a network of mobile clinics and doctors carry out routine village checkups. Satellite units are providing primary care. Additionally, CMEC has also ordered a medical bus from China which will be the first of its kind in Pakistan, equipped with an x-ray machine, ECG machine, B-ultrasound machine etc. It can cover the entire Thar area and provide medical care to remote villages.
Disaster Relief Local chaunra (Hut) can easily catch fire due to dry weather, and because of the crowded neighborhoods, fire spreads very fast. Several fire accidents have happened in the last two years in villages near the project. In addition to sending firetrucks and water bowzers to put out the fires, ration donations and funds were dispatched immediately — about one million rupees were collected for disaster relief.
Help was also provided to the families as they rebuilt their shelters. The company helps employees’ families whenever unforeseen circumstances hit them. Families of the deceased are supported in many different ways to ensure the loss of a loved one does not create a calamitous situation for all the family members.
In August of 2017, a local employee Abdullah had a car accident and unfortunately lost his right leg. He was rendered unfit to work as a laborer any longer. The company built a prefab house for him to live in and run a shop, and purchased goods for him to sell. The aim was to help Abdullah earn a basic living with this shop.
Now, as business grew, he has opened a second shop from the earnings of his first shop. On the water front, which has remained one of the most precious resources in Thar, CMEC transports clean ROprocessed water to villages whenever a water crisis arises. For wind and sand fixation, and protecting the fragile ecological environment, CMEC follows the principle of pulldown one tree and plant three more trees in the place.
The corporation has specially ploughed two spots to plant trees, and is planning on planting million trees by 2021. Villagers have stated that they want to build Thar as a modernized and developed region, with residents enjoying quality education and professional health care. As the energy base of Pakistan, the prosperity of Thar can provide the country with cheap and stable power. After all, a better future for Thar will ensure a prosperous Pakistan.