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CM Patnaik raises questions over coalfield allocation

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has raised questions on the decision of the Ministry of Coal to allot four coal mines of the state to Western Coalfields Limited instead of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd.

Though both are subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd, administrative convenience and operating in close coordination with the government ought to place MCL above WCL which is headquartered in Nagpur, noted the Chief Minister.

The four coal mines Rampia, Dip side of Rampia, Ghogarpalli and Dip extension of Ghogarpalli is to be given to Western Coalfields Limited instead of Mahanadi Coaifelds Limited, which is already operating several coal mines in the region.

Operationalisation of coal mines requires close coordination with the local administration for land acquisition, rehabilitation, and resettlement of project affected famiiies etc.

The WCL with its headquarters at Nagpur in Maharashtra may not be in a position to effectively tackle the issues, which are critical to the smooth operationalisation of coal mines, said the CM in a letter to Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today.

The MCL has achieved a record production of more than 143 million tonnes of coal during the financial year 2017- 18 and with a more focussed approach towards rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families, it can grow further in partnership with the local communities, he said. He requested the Union Coal Minister to re-examine the matter and allot them to MCL.

The Chief Minister went on to suggest that in case MCL is unable to handle more coal mines, CIL should set up anotehr subsidiary for Talcher Coalfield and the MCL may further scale up its operations in the Ib Valley region.

It is pertinent to note here that barely a week ago Union Coal Minister Mr Goyal had expressed his displeasure over the slow progress of coal mining activity in Odisha.

He had cited instances of better performance in other states. The Union Minister had stated that his efforts to expedite and jack up coal production had worked in other states whereas Odisha had lagged behind due to land and law and order related problems.

The decision to allot four coal mines to WCL instead of MCL is said to be due to this. Political circles here however attribute a BJP motive to prefer Nagpur based WCL over Odisha based MCL. The state BJP unit here denied such speculations and pointed out that both are subsidiaries of CIL.