A blockade mounted by villagers of Odisha threatens to shut down the key Talcher coalfields of Coal India Ltd, affecting power production in the South.
It all started in 2005 when Delhi asked CIL to set up captive mining joint ventures using sections of the Gopal Prasad block.
Villagers, with land on either side of the block, surrendered their holdings to CIL and its subsidiary Mahanadhi Coalfields Ltd in the hope of getting jobs with the PSUs. Post the Supreme Court’s 2014 order, the Gopal Prasad block was also de-allocated and MCL withdrew its offer of jobs.
Angered, the villagers who gave away their land have mounted a blockade of the coalfields, hurting the State-owned miner’s production. Hingula, a 12 million tonne per annum mine in the Talcher coalfields, has been shut for the last 15 days.
Now, production at the 70 million tonne per annum Talcher coalfields may be threatened if the villagers up the ante.
That Hingula has been out of action has gone un-noticed because the power plants in the region (including NTPC plants) have large coal stocks. But that may not be the case if production is disrupted at Talcher, which caters to almost all generating utilities in the power-starved South.
To tide over the situation, the Odisha-based MCL approached the Centre for reallocation of the 15 million tonnes captive Goapl Prasad West block. MCL has made much progress in land acquisition and getting green clearances in the block and can start production. But MCL is yet to hear from the Coal Ministry.
Last year, MCL produced 121 mt of coal. More importantly, it contributed 11 mt out of CIL’s 32 mt incremental production. For 2015-16, MCL’s production target is 150 mt.
CIL faces more problems in Odisha. With evacuation of fuel slowing, the stock at railway sidings in the State (some 1.6 mt) faces fire threat.
The miner can load nearly 80 rakes a day, but is getting only around 65 rakes. The high inventory is also holding back the company from stepping up production. The resulting production loss is estimated at 25,000 tonne a day (about 9 mt a year).