Mahanadi Coalfields staring at 10-mt production loss

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on November 25, 2017

Odisha villagers call for another round of strike from Friday

The Union Government wanted Sambalpur-based Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd, to be a front runner in meeting the nation’s fuel needs. The miner was mandated to contribute nearly 40 per cent of the total incremental production of Coal India in 2014-15.

However, the company’s plans to ramp up production hit hurdles when at least 122 villagers of Hensmul at the Talcher coalfields, Odisha, refused to vacate their land for MCL’s mining operations. The company had earlier terminated the villagers from service after they refused to vacate the land in lieu of which they were given employment. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD)led State Government, which wrested the Talcher Assembly constituency in the 2014 election, convinced MCL to withdraw the termination against the 122 and, oblige to their fresh set of demands.

Indefinite strike

The villagers, however, rejected the company’s offer, and have called another round of indefinite strike from Friday. MCL is now staring at a nearly 10 million tonnes (mt) production loss from two large mines — Bhubneswari (25 mt) and Ananta (10 mt) — in the rest of the fiscal.

At stake is nearly 2,000 MW electricity generation in the southern States.

“Helpless MCL awaits closure of the Talcher mines,” the company said on Wednesday. Sources say MCL sent an alert to the State Government on July 22. But it failed to yield any response so far.

Production at both the mines came to a near grinding halt as it’s risky to continue mining in the wake of villagers’ protests.

MCL Chairman AN Sahay said he is working on a contingency plan. But the advancing rains have made his job difficult.

As the rains were delayed this year, the company could produce 4 mt (17 per cent) more coal in the first three months of this fiscal. The situation has reversed since July 13.

According to Sahay, MCL mines recorded more than double the average rainfall in the last 10 days, meaning production has hit a slow track and a reversal is unlikely till October-November.

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Published on July 23, 2014
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