KOHAT, March 15: Exports from the newly-built second white cement plant with a dialy production capacity of 500 tons have started to the Middle East and Afghanistan. The plant imported from Germany had cost over Rs1 billion for the Kohat Cement Company. It had been built keeping in view the ever-increasing needs of the construction business in Afghanistan and the UAE where mostly white cement is used. Col Shahadat, General Manager Administration, Kohat Cement Company, told Dawn on Wednesday that earlier there was only one plant in Thatta with a meagre production of 200 tons per day. Similarly, to meet the exorbitant demand of grey cement due to the construction boom in Afghanistan, a second 6,700-ton plant was being imported from China by the Kohat Cement Company at an estimated cost of Rs4 billion. The plant will hopefully start production by the middle of the year. Col Shahadat said orders for various parts of the plant have been given to different Chinese companies to save time and start early production, and added that it would be in addition to the old plant, which had a capacity for producing 1,800 tons of cement per day. He said that with the commissioning of both plants more than 500 jobs of skilled, semi-skilled and highly-skilled labour and a 1,000 of unskilled labour would be generated, which would help in minimising unemployment in this part of the country. Replying to a question, he said that due to the heavy cost of electricity and furnace oil in the country they had converted the old plant from electricity to coal but now they were planning to put all the three plants on gas. However, he added that they would certainly keep either furnace oil or coal as an alternative option in an emergency. He said that the survey for gas had been completed and luckily gas had been discovered in Kohat as a result of which there would be no problem in getting the facility. About local people being concerned regarding the increase in air pollution due to the use of coal as a major source of energy in the plants, Col Shahadat said that there was an in-built pollution control system comprising heavy fans installed in the new plant which would collect dust. He said that earlier the dust and Carbon monoxide (CO) emitted by the old plant posed a problem for the people living in nearby villages but after the replacement of 75 per cent of its main parts, which were imported from Germany, the emissions from the old plant were well under control now. He said that the dangerous limit of dust was 300 grams per million cubes and above whereas according to their laboratory tests the quantity of dust emitted by the plant was recorded between 170 and 175 grams per million cubes. He said that recently foreign experts visited their plant under a joint programme organised by the National Environment Protection Agency to check the industrial pollution. They certified that the emissions were well under control. Another officer of the cement company said that these problems were natural and the most-developed countries also faced the spread of pollution-related diseases. He said that about 350 officers who lived in the company’s residential colony just a few meters from the plant were more vulnerable to the effects of pollution. He said that in cement manufacturing a lot of crushing of limestone and its baking were involved which released carbon dioxide and dust which could only be controlled to some extent. Answering a question, he said that the old plant was burning 600 tons of coal every day.