Nagpur: The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd’s (Mahagenco) plan to put an end to coal shortage at its thermal power stations and problems of low quality and unwashed coal by developing its own coal mine in Chhattisgarh has received a major jolt. Pre-poll atmosphere in Chhattisgarh has stalled the development of Gare Palma sector-II captive coal project of the company situated in Raigarh district.
Mahagenco sources said project was facing strong opposition from villagers and politicians of both opposition (Congress) and ruling party (BJP). “Project is spread over 2,583.48 hectares covering 14 villages, 27,246 families, forest area and water bodies. 95% of required land belongs to private persons. Only 125 hectares is with the state government. Mahagenco is not having any land in its possession as of now. Raigarh district administration has put off the process until after the assembly elections,” sources said.
Elections in Chhattisgarh are slated for November and new government will take office in January 2019. The Central government had sanctioned the block having 1,059.29 million tonne reserves on March 31, 2015. Mahagenco’s target was to start production in December 2018. The government’s deadline to Mahagenco for starting coal production is December 2019. Both seem very difficult to achieve now.
Another major problem is that 31 more villages are supposed to be rehabilitated for captive coal blocks of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The coal blocks of two states are adjacent to Mahagenco’s block. One of the reasons for strong opposition is need for rehabilitation of 45 villages, a big number.
Mahagenco sources added villagers and politicians did not even allow environment hearing to happen last month. “Hearing was compulsory for environment clearance. Mining lease process followed by land acquisition, rehabilitation of villagers etc can only start after this. Mahagenco and Raigarh district administration were not allowed to erect pandal for hearing. District administration postponed it until after elections,” sources said.
The project cannot come up in case strong opposition continues even after the elections. The block is crucial for Mahagenco and state’s power scenario. It was allotted for six new units including three at Koradi, two at Chandrapur and one at Parli. All units are commissioned and play an important role in state’s power scenario. At present, coal is being supplied by Coal India Ltd’s subsidiaries to new units on temporary allocation.
A Mahagenco official said other process like identification and demarcation of project’s land, identification of land for rehabilitation of villages etc will be continued. “Bidding process to appoint operator for the mine for 30 years is in final stage. Proposal to issue work order to lowest bidder has been submitted with the government. Private operator will develop infrastructure for villages’ rehabilitation and other process till then. We are hopeful of achieving the deadline set by the government,” he said.
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