Coal production drop hits transporters
JHARSUGUDA: With a production drop in Ib Valley and Lakhanpur areas of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) in the district, transportation of coal in both rail and road has been badly hit. This has affected thousands of families who depend on coal transportation industry.
While usually 900 trucks operated in Lakhanpur, now less less than 200 such vehicles are engaged. In Ib Valley area, generally 800 trucks were engaged on a daily basis. However, only 300 trucks are operating now. Sources said due to scarcity of coal, the power projects are also staring at an uncertain future.
Despite the priority provision by the Union Coal Ministry to overcome coal scarcity, many thermal power projects are being forced to shut shop due to shortage of the raw material.
Around 60 per cent of the coal transport is done through railway and 40 per cent by road. Ib Valley coalfields of MCL includes Lakhanpur, Ib Valley, Orient and Vasundhara areas.
On analysing coal transportation figures from Ib Valley coalfields through auction in one year, the trend of decreasing production becomes evident.
During 2016-17 fiscal, coal transportation has gone down every month. In April 2016, about 14 lakh tonne of coal was transported via railways as against nine lakh tonne by roads. In July 2017, the figure went down with only about 2.8 lakh tonne of coal being transported.
A target of 61.35 lakh tonne was set for coal transportation in October 2016. But now with reduced coal transport target due to drop in output, truck owners are facing financial loss. Similar is the condition of transporters who supply coal to various industries. While Belpahar open cast mine has completely stopped producing coal, a very low quantity is being lifted in Lakhanpur open cast mine. The situation is same in Samaleswari and Lajkura open cast mines under Ib Valley area. If the situation does not improve, hundreds of families who depend on this trade will be severely affected.
Contacted, Lakhanpur General Manager MG Brahmapurkar said there is a dispute between industries and coal transporters over freight charges. Therefore, coal lifting from the mines has been stopped for the time being. However, coal production has not decreased, he claimed.
However on condition of anonymity, a senior MCL officer said as villagers are refusing to vacate Charla land in Lakhanpur area’s BOCM, coal production has been completely stopped. Besides, a surface miner has become defunct in Ib Valley’s SOCM resulting in decrease in production.