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Crisis in making: Talcher coalfield strike enters 12th day as stalemate continues

A meeting between MCL executives, district authorities and striking villagers on Tuesday ended in a stalemate and operations at Talcher coalfield remained suspended

Crisis in making: Talcher coalfield strike enters 12th day as stalemate continues
Crisis in making: Talcher coalfield strike enters 12th day as stalemate continues

Sambalpur: The rescue and combing operations at Bharatpur Mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) finally retrieved the body of Ramesh Dash, Security Guard of DK Dana Security Agency, the contractor in the mines. A strata collapse in Bharatpur coal mines had killed four workers on July 24 and triggered a strike that has led to the suspension of operations at Talcher coalfields for 12 days now.

MCL trade union meets sub-collector

On Tuesday morning, the employees of MCL, along with trade union leaders, met the sub-collector and submitted a representation to restore normalcy in Talcher coalfields and resume production in the remaining eight unaffected mines of MCL. Later, a tri-partite meeting with the sub-collector was held with the striking villagers and MCL general managers which ended without a final decision as villagers refused to budge from their demand of a permanent job in MCL for the aggrieved families, along with Rs 1-crore compensation.

What has MCL offered to victims’ families?

MCL has offered compensation to the victims’ families, as per the Employee Compensation Act, and a contractual job, as governed by the High Powered Committee (HPC wages), which pays more than any contractual job offered in any PSU. The stalemate has not only affected the livelihood of around 40,000 people in Talcher coalfields but has also reduced share in District Mineral Fund (DMF) and CSR contribution for the villagers of Talcher.

Blockade has led to shutdown at power stations

The blockade has also resulted in closing of units of power stations that were dependent on Talcher coalfields for the supply of coal. The NTPC’s Kaniha plant has already been forced to close four of its six units, Talcher thermal power plant (TTPS) is running at 50 percent plant load factor (PLF). Major power plants in Southern India namely, APGENCO, APPDCL in Andhra Pradesh, TANGEDCO, Neyvelli Lignite Corporation and NTEL (A joint venture of NTPC & TNEB) in Tamil Nadu, and KPCL in Karnataka, continue to report depleting stocks of coal and are on the verge of closing their units leading to a massive fall in electricity generation if the Talcher coalfields are not allowed to begin operations.

Meanwhile, the cumulative losses stood at 23.14 lakh tonnes of coal, 26.64 lakh tonnes of Despach and 22.56 lakh cubic metre of over burden removal, as on August 4. Loss to the company stood at Rs 234.92 crore, loss to the Central and state exchequer was at Rs 152.06 crore and a generation loss of 3,672.31 Million Units.

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