Carv­ing out a Mar­ble City

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Pak­istan is en­dowed with vast de­posits of mar­ble of very fine qual­ity. Ge­ol­o­gists and min­ing ex­perts be­lieve that more than 160 mil­lion tonnes of such de­posits ex­ist in the coun­try. Some 97 per­cent of these re­serves lie in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa while the re­main­ing in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in Balochis­tan. The Fed­er­ally Ad­min­is­tered Tribal Ar­eas (FATA) also have sub­stan­tial de­posits that are be­ing mined as or­ga­nized en­ter­prises.

It is worth­while to note that public-pri­vate di­a­logue and co­or­di­na­tion in the mar­ble and gran­ite in­dus­try of Pak­istan has im­proved notably. There have been sig­nif­i­cant pol­icy changes to break down the bar­ri­ers for the ac­qui­si­tion and in­vest­ment in ad­vanced ma­chin­ery and equip­ment to up­grade pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Fur­ther, in the frame­work of Pak­istan Stone De­vel­op­ment Com­pany (PASDEC), Pak­istan Ini­tia­tive for Strate­gic De­vel­op­ment and Com­pet­i­tive­ness (PISDAC), SMEDA and TDAP, and public and pri­vate stake­hold­ers are con­tin­u­ing to en­hance the sec­tor’s com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Keep­ing in view the suc­cess of eco­nomic zones and in­dus­trial es­tates in de­vel­op­ing spe­cific sec­tors, both in the de­vel­oped and newly in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, it has been de­cided to ap­ply the same strat­egy to uplift the mar­ble and gran­ite sec­tor in Sindh.

The process of set­ting up a mod­ern mar­ble city has been ini­ti­ated on 300 acres of land, which will house more than 200 pro­cess­ing plants. Sindh Stone De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, a joint ven­ture be­tween public and pri­vate sec­tors, has taken up the task of min­ing, pro­cess­ing, value ad­di­tion and ex­port of mar­ble and other stones in the prov­ince. Zubair Moti­wala, Chair­man of Sindh Board of In­vest­ment, is the chair­man of the com­pany while pro­vin­cial min­is­ters for in­dus­tries, in­vest­ment and min­ing are its mem­bers.

The iden­ti­fied com­po­nents of the project are: coastal man­age­ment, com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, in­sti­tu­tional strength­en­ing of the Sindh Coastal De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (SCDA) and project man­age­ment while the im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies are the wildlife and for­est depart­ment, live­stock and fish­eries depart­ment, dis­trict gov­ern­ments of Thatta and Badin, the Na­tional Ru­ral Sup­port Pro­gramme (NRSP) and the In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN).

The Sindh gov­ern­ment has ear­marked Rs. 50 mil­lion for the project, of which Rs. 3.5 mil­lion has been spent on the pur­chase of land while the rest will go • •

• • • Value ad­di­tion to stone min­eral re­sources of Sindh and Baluchis­tan. Bet­ter jobs in terms of work­ing con­di­tions and in­come re­sult­ing from im­proved skills im­parted by train­ing. In­creased di­rect and sec­ondary job cre­ation, sup­port­ing poverty al­le­vi­a­tion in the re­gion. En­hanced ex­ports of mar­ble and other stones. Waste re­duc­tion and in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity in stone sec­tor. to­wards pre­par­ing the mas­ter plan and lay­ing the in­fra­struc­ture.

For the suc­cess­ful run­ning of the mar­ble city, the pri­vate sec­tor is be­lieved to play an im­por­tant role. The for­mu­lated pro­ce­dures as­sure a trans­par­ent al­lot­ment of plots to real in­vestors only, while a vig­i­lant struc­ture has been cre­ated to can­cel the al­lot­ment to those in­vestors who fail to in­stall plants in the stip­u­lated time pe­riod.

The Mar­ble City project has a tremen­dous in­vest­ment and growth po­ten­tial for en­trepreneurs who have the ca­pa­bil­ity of bring­ing in high end tech­nol­ogy, in­no­va­tion and ser­vices. The con­cept is based on a cut­ting edge stone tech­nol­ogy, cus­tom fa­cil­i­ties and state of the art ser­vices to cre­ate one of the largest and tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced in­dus­trial parks for Di­men­sion Stone (Mar­ble and Gran­ite) in Karachi.

The Sindh gov­ern­ment will do well to en­sure that the ven­ture moves on be­yond the lay­ing of the foun­da­tion stone. Ac­cord­ing to Sanaullah Khan, Chair­man, Mar­ble In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion and Di­rec­tor, Sindh Stone De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, mar­ble ex­ports have been high­lighted as a hugely prof­itable sub-sec­tor with ex­pected vol­umes of $1 bil­lion in the next two to three years

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