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Facing power crisis, Gehlot asks Baghel to expedite coal mining clearances

Writes to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, says coal supplies will last only till January.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
Updated: December 28, 2021 8:05:46 am
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot

With the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh government facing continuous resistance from its tribal people over mining in forest areas, another Congress-ruled state Rajasthan has claimed that if the Bhupesh Baghel-led government does not grant clearances for mining the Parsa block, it might soon be staring at a power crisis.

After his letters to Baghel did not result in desired progress, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently knocked at the doors of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Urban Development and Housing Minister Shanti Dhariwal said Gehlot wrote to the Congress President to bring the related issues to her notice.

“Very little coal is now left in the coal mines allotted to us in Chhattisgarh. For other coal mines are also allotted to us, some local formalities are still in process. The Chief Minister has spoken with the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh over telephone and has also written letters,” Rajasthan Power Minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati told The Indian Express, hoping for a positive outcome.

“At present, around 9-10 rakes of coal are supplied to Rajasthan every day from the Parsa (East) and Kete Basan (PEKB) mines in Chhattisgarh for generating power. As per our estimates, we can mine only around 1 million ton from this mine now. This can last one month at the most, till January,” a top official of the Rajasthan government, who did not wish to be named, said.

Rajasthan requires around 18 rakes of coal daily to meet its power production capacity. While PEKB supplies 9-10 rakes, the balance being supplied by Coal India. The PEKB coal block is owned by state-owned Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited, the official MDO (Mine Developer and Operator) is Adani Enterprises.

Officials said Rajasthan has made repeated requests to Chhattisgarh to grant clearances for mining in the Parsa coal block, one of the three coal blocks – PEKB, Parsa, and Kete extension – in the state allotted to RRVUNL. Rajasthan hopes to be able to start mining in the Parsa coal block which has a capacity of 5 million ton per annum (MTA).

Officials in Chhattisgarh agreed that diversion and land acquisition processes are not complete. The proposal is being examined by the state government, said forest officials. “An appropriate decision will be taken after taking all aspects under consideration,” said an official statement by the Chhattisgarh Forest Department.

The October 14 application for consent to operate the Parsa coal block is pending with the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB), official records of the Rajasthan government show. The state is yet to grant stage II forest clearance needed to start mining.

Applications for permission to cut trees in government and private land made on April 12 and August 13 this year are also pending with the collectors of Surguja and Surajpur in Chhattisgarh. So are asset verification and certification for villages in the Parsa block.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had granted the stage II forest clearance for the project on October 21 this year and had forwarded it to the Principal Secretary (Forest) Chhattisgarh. The MoEF&CC clearance had come after the Chhattisgarh government sent a proposal for non-forest use of forest land related to the Parsa coal block project to the Centre earlier that month.

The Rajasthan government is also waiting for the clearance from the Centre to start mining under phase II in PEKB, which has an area of 1,136 hectares.

Gehlot had written twice to Baghel in October and November urging him to speed up granting clearances for the Parsa coal block and to begin the public hearing for Kete Extension, the third block allotted to the RRUVNL. Rajasthan state officials said that in PEKB phase I, mining to the tune of 81.01 MMT has been undertaken out of the available 137 MMT coal reserve. The balance coal reserve of 54.99 MMT is ‘blocked’ due to reasons such as benching and garland drain. The Rajasthan government data estimates 1 MMT coal reserves over 762 hectares available for mining in phase I.

(With inputs from Gargi Verma in Raipur)

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