Strike hits coal production in Talcher coalfields

Production hampered due to protest (Image for Representation)

Coal production and dispatch was severely hit in three mines under the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) at Talcher coalfields in Angul district due to agitation by local people on Wednesday demanding employment, an official said.

The agitation hampered production and supply of 1.1 lakh tonne of coal a day to different power plants across the country, an official said adding that apart from the prolonged monsoon, the sporadic strikes and bandhs in the mines across Talcher coalfields this year have deterred coal production and supply from MCL.

"Owing to unfavourable socio-political situation and frequent stoppages, Talcher coalfields alone has registered a loss of 13 million tonne in coal production during the current financial year, with a negative growth of about 8 per cent as compared to the same period previous fiscal 2018-19," the official stated.

While demanding employment which the MCL described as "beyond regulation", the residents of Ekdal village forcibly stopped coal mining and dispatch operations at Jagannath OCP (open cast project), Bhubaneswari OCP and Ananta OCP from the first shift at 5 AM on Wednesday.

With the closure of three mines, production and supply of more than 1.1 lakh tonne coal to the thermal power plants in a day is affected, the official said.

Ekdal village, along with nine other villages, was notified under CBA Act (The Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Amendment Act, 1957) and the compensation was awarded as on January 6, 2018.

Of the total awarded compensation of Rs 34 crore, Rs 27 crore has already been disbursed so far among the beneficiaries who have submitted their documents, the official pointed out.

On the status of rehabilitation, the MCL official said 268 cases have been identified for employment and the company has been processing to give jobs to these people.

However, the remaining 135 cases, which are coming under category IV & V of R&R (Resettlement and Rehabilitation) Policy, 2006 of Odisha Government, and therefore not eligible for employment, have resorted to "illegal" stoppage of mining operations, he said.

Meanwhile, the MCL had attempted to solve the problems of 135 villagers through discussion and wanted a meeting.

"Though a meeting was organised at Jagannath Area headquarters following the strike notice, none of them turn up for discussion. They have instead resorted stoppage of work causing an estimated loss of more than Rs 11 crore in a day," the official claimed.

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