The Orissa High Court directed the central government agencies including union secretaries of coal and mines besides Chairman, Railway Board to find ways and means by Tuesday to prevent possible shutdown of NAKCO units at Angul and Damanjodi, battling severe shortage of coal by Tuesday.
“The Court considers its appropriate to direct that the Secretary Power, the Secretary Coal, Secretary Mines and the Chairman, Railway Board will sit together in virtual or hybrid mode with the Managing Directors (MDs) of MCL and the NALCO not later than 6 p.m. tomorrow i.e. 26th April 2022 to find the way of resolving the crises with a view to ensuring that the smelter plant of NALCO at Angul and make arrangement put in place so that the smelter plant of NALCO at Angul and its Alumina refinery at Damanjodi are not pushed to the brink of a shut down”, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice R.K.Pattanaik directed in an interim order on Monday.
Besides NALCO, the Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry Limited and the District Small Scale Industries Association, espousing the cause of the Medium and Small Scale Manufacturing Enterprises (MSMEs), had sought the intervention of HC for an early end to the prevailing coal crisis. In separate petitions moved with the HC, they apprehended that the MSMEs will be severely affected in a cascading manner if the major alumina and smelter plants in Odisha cease to function because of shortage of coal supply which in turn will affect the power supply.
The counsel appearing for the NALCO pointed out that the coal supply from MCL has been reduced 60% of the contracted demand and NALCO is, in fact, making up the remaining required quantity by purchasing it through e-auction. NALCO’s Smelter plant totally depends on its Captive Power Plant (CPP) which is a thermal power plant which in turn depends entirely on coal supply from MCL. If the CPP does not generate enough power to keep the smelter plant going, it will have to shut down.
NALCO has export orders which have to be met and which have potential for generating huge revenue for the country. The stocks available with the NALCO can keep its units running only for three more days. Unless MCL maintains the supply chain, the smelter plant will be shut down, NALCO’ counsel Pami Rath apprised the court.
Meanwhile, pursuant to the HC order passed on 22 April, East Coast Railway (ECoR) supplied one rake on 23 April for carrying the coal from the pit head of MCL at Bharatpur and Talcher to NALCO’s Smelter plant at Angul and four rakes on 24 April 2022. It is stated that today three rakes are being arranged for the purpose, the HC order noted.