The Talabira coal blocks in Ib valley of Orissa,which the CBI claims was illegally allocated to Hindalco,have a proven rich vein of coal reserves. Talabira I was already with Hindalco,when Indal made a pitch for Talabira II and III.
The two coal blocks have extractable reserves of 10 million tonnes per annum but are yet to be mined. The mines span the five villages of Malda,Patrapali,Talabira,Rampur,Khinda,Khaita and in the Ib valley in Jharsuguda and Sambalpur districts of Orissa. The valley derives this name from the Ib river a tributory of Mahanadi. It is part of Indias third largest coal field and is 52 km from the nearest rail link at Brajarajnagar.
The mines have not gone into production,as out of the 17 milestones to be cleared,including land acquisition around the mines 12,are unfulfilled. A government press release of 2005 notes that Nalco also wanted to get Talabira II but its application was rejected. With Coal India subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields and Tamil Nadu based Neyveli Lignite Corporation,Hindalco formed a three way joint venture with an equity share of 15 per cent in November 2005.
Coal ministry records show the three companies were rapped in September 2010 for falling behind on achieving the targets.
A show cause notice served on the three issued in September 2010 said,No serious efforts was made even after repeated assurances tendered by them. Critical milestones like furnishing of bank guarantees,environment management plan and land acquisition were pending. The companies have repeatedly failed to keep its promises made on earlier occasions.
Hindalco is one of the largest aluminum producer in the world with a turnover of over $14 billion. The Indal application for the mine was made as the Indian subsidiary of Alcan,the Canadian aluminium major. Indal was acquired by Hindalco in 2000,after which Hindalco pursued the matter further. The actual allocation of the mine was done in November 2005 nine years after the first application was made.
Significantly,Hindalco has another mine Mahan in Madhya Pradesh which too was embroiled in environmental issues. The government in September 2011 included it in the list of key large projects that were facing policy issues and asked ministry of environment and forests to clear those.