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Rajasthan seeks Chhattisgarh’s help to start coal mining for power projects

Rajasthan has sought the intervention of the Chhattisgarh government for an early start of coal mining to help supplement...

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New Delhi: Rajasthan has sought the intervention of the Chhattisgarh government for an early start of coal mining to help supplement fuel supplies for its electricity-generating projects at a time when the state is facing a power crunch. Rajasthan Chief Secretary Usha Sharma on May 19 wrote to her Chhattisgarh counterpart Amitabh Jain saying some locals with the support of a few NGOs are creating problems in the commencement of mining operations in coal blocks state had been allocated.

The Rajasthan government’s utility Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) has invested heavily in the commissioning of 4,400 MW of thermal power stations, which are supposed to source coal from its Parsa East Kanta Basan (PEKB), Parsa and Kente Extension coal blocks in Chhattisgarh. The three blocks are estimated to have an annual production of close to 30 million tonnes.

However, it has been able to produce only half of it from the first phase of the PEKB block while both Parsa and Kente Extension coal blocks are yet to take off.

The two blocks have got forest clearance and permission has been issued for tree felling.

“However, some local people with the support of a few NGOs are creating problems and taking inappropriate actions to stop the working at the site for tree enumeration and tree felling activity,” Sharma wrote.

A delay in commencement of mining operations shall adversely impact the production of coal, its supply and the power generation in the state, she said adding it would also cause revenue loss to Chhattisgarh.

Rajasthan may plunge into a severe power crisis if it fails to kick start coal production from the second phase of PEKB block where it is not possible to recover coal anymore from the first phase.

Also, coal production from Parsa and Kente Extension blocks is critical for Rajasthan’s energy security in the future.

Last year, Rajasthan procured 17 million tonne of coal from Coal India Ltd and 15 million tonne from PEKB block. The supplies from Coal India Limited are often disrupted on account of its lower production. In that case, fuel supply from its captive coal mines is a lifeline for Rajasthan.

Rajasthan believes it is facing hurdles on account of misinformation spread by a handful of activists targeting the development of its coal blocks.

The Rajasthan utility has planted over 8 lakh trees to compensate for the impact on the local ecology to make PEKB block the model mine in the country.

All three – PEKB, Parsa and Kente Extension blocks – will be operated by long-term agreement for Mine Development and Operations (MDO) instead of conventional and inefficient short-term contracts for coal excavation.

In the case of MDO model, the mine developer and operator have to ensure ‘responsible mining’ practices. This compels mining companies to address the interests of all the stakeholders including the local community and the government.

“I shall be grateful if this matter could be resolved urgently at your level and necessary directions are issued to the district collectors of Sarguja and Surajpur,” Sharma added.

(With agency inputs)

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