West Bengal gets India’s largest coal mine, centre allots Deocha-Pachami

Bengal is set to develop the country’s largest coal mine in Birbhum district, with the Centre allotting the development rights for the Deocha-Pachami coal block to the state under the government route.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that her government was drawing up a Rs 12,000-crore plan to develop the block, which would create one lakh jobs and usher in rapid economic development in the area.

Addressing a public function at Kenduli on January 18, 2016, the chief minister had said the block will produce coal worth Rs 2.10 lakh crore and attract total investments of Rs 22,000 crore.

The block is located in the southwestern part of Birbhum coalfields, adjoining the Dewanganj block. It is spread over an area of 9.7 sq km and estimated to have in-place reserves of 2,102 million tonnes.

The block was originally offered jointly to West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, UP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and SJVNL (formerly Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd).

None, however, showed any interest in developing the block in the last three years or so, prompting Mamata to seek sole operatorship.

The Centre responded to Mamata’s demand by setting up an inter-ministerial committee to examine her proposal. After two years of deliberations, the Centre has now agreed to allow Bengal to develop the mine.

Mamata has already put in place a SPV (special purpose vehicle) — Bengal Birbhum Coalfields Ltd (BBCL) — for developing the block.

Her government is now expected to appoint a mine developer and operator to start mining. The land acquisition issue is, however, yet to be sorted out.

Bengal will get the largest share of 584 million tonnes of coal from the block, followed by Bihar which has a share of 486 million tonnes.

The block has four seams of coal ranging from 9 metres to 80 metres in thickness at depths ranging from 135 metres to 835 metres. The ash content of coal is estimated at 15-20%, which covers Grades A, B C, D and G.

The block can be accessed through the Panagarh-Mourigram road and the nearest railway station is Mallarpur.

et energy


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