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After losing coal block to Telangana, Orissa says auctions provide little benefit

Orrisa has incurred an expenditure of Rs Rs 216 crore in procuring land for the project.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Published: March 27, 2015 11:46:44 am
Coal Scam. Coal Scam.

Upset over one of its power PSUs not being allocated a coal block in the latest round of coal block allotment, Orissa has said the auctions and allotment of coal blocks is leading to inequitable sharing of cost and benefits from the coal mining and power generation with little benefit to it.

Though the State was eyeing the Naini coal block, one of the 43 coal blocks allocated for PSUs, it was given to Singareni Collieries Company Limited of Telangana government two days ago. Orissa had formed a new power PSU called Orissa Thermal Power Corporation in Dhenkanal to establish a 3X800 megawatt and 1X800 megawatt coal-firedplant and was eyeing Naini coal block in Angul district with a proven reserve of 500 million tonnes of coal.

OTPC, a 50:50 joint venture between Orissa Mining Corporation and Orissa Hydro Power Corporation, has already applied for Chhendipada and Chhendipada -II under government dispensing route. It has not been possible to incur 30 per cent per expenditure due to guidelines issues by Centre advising the government project authorities not to incur any expenditure for the project work without obtaining environmental clearance. The project has so far acquired 60 per cent of the private land necessary and payment of balance 40 per cent is in progress.

Alienation of 671 acre of government land, 8.7 acre of forest land is in progress. All statutory clearances have been obtained except environment clearance due to non-availability of coal block. So far an expenditure of Rs 216 crore have been incurred.

In a letter to union coal secretary Anil Swarup two days ago, Orissa energy secretary Suresh Mohapatra said despite Orissa having nearly 27 per cent of coal reserves, much of the coal is getting transported out of the State and a major part of power to be generated from these plants would also be sold out of the State. “Due to growing issues relating to land acquisition, environment and ash management, much of state’s administrative resource is getting spent in facilitating development of these projects. The above situation leads to an inequitable sharing of cost and benefits from the coal mining and power generation.

“Consequently, the State suffers from adverse impacts which include huge quantum of land acquisition and consequent displacement and rehabilitation of people, mostly tribals, reduction in forest area which include challenges of preservation of flora and fauna, great risk of environmental pollution, strain on existing water resources, overutilisation of state’s exisiting infrastructure and other resources such as roads, railway and fuel etc, unfilled mine voids and unreclaimed land,” Mohapatra wrote.

Requesting the union coal secretary for reconsidering the allotment of Naini coal block, Mohapatra said comparision of the gains and losses would show lack of incentive to the coal bearing states for supporting aggressive coal mining to meet the growing power demands of the nation.

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