Coal output halted in MCL's Talcher coalfields, losses mount

Kolkata, Jan 12 (IANS): Coal India's subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) on Saturday said production and dispatches at its Talcher unit in Angul district of Odisha came to a "grinding halt" in the last few days due to a stir by local activists.

The daily loss to the exchequer of both the Centre and state is estimated at Rs 18 crore, it said.

Talcher Coalfields was expected to produce 100 million tonnes of coal in the current fiscal year, but stoppages and strike along with the land constraints have resulted in a loss of about five million tonnes from the coalfield itself in the current fiscal so far, an official said.

"Due to a two-day general strike called by trade unions earlier this week, production and dispatches suffered. Again, mining activities and dispatches at Talcher have been disrupted from Friday onwards due to an indefinite strike called by the Talcher Suraksha Manch," a company spokesperson told IANS over phone.

"The overall loss in production could be 1.2 million tonnes in four days (including Saturday)," the spokesperson said.

The average production from the coalfield varies between 2.7 lakh tonnes to three lakh tonnes a day and it contributes to about 60 per cent of MCL's annual production.

"With losing daily production and dispatches, the MCL's daily loss has been around Rs 20 crore and the loss to exchequers of the Centre and state (Odisha) could touch Rs 18 crore a day," he said.

The Manch has been agitating with its 16-point agenda, including implementation of State Rehabilitation Policy, 2006, construction of Angul-Talcher rail line, construction of a medical college and formation of a separate coal company.

"Our indefinite economic blockade has been successful. We have placed our 16-point charter of demands to the authority," said Manch's President Murali Sahoo.

According to the miner, the Manch had raised their demands during the meeting convened by the District Collector, Angul. Some of the issues were "beyond the purview of the company" and the rest was agreed to be taken up at the earliest.

"While the meeting was concluded on a positive note, it is not understood how the Manch has the clout to violate all rules and laws of the land," a company source said, adding that the members of the Manch have resorted to intimidating the MCL employees.

The miner wrote to the Odisha government informing the officials of the situation and accused the district administration and local MLA Braja Kishore Pradhan of being "inactive to resolve the impasse".

Pradhan denied the allegations and said that the miner should respond to demands of the local people.

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