KOLKATA: The West Bengal government is exploring the option of underground mining for one of the largest coal blocks, Deocha Pachami, in the state as the conventional opencast would be a challenge, state Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said on Friday.
"Deocha Pachami coal block, the world's second largest, was allocated to us. There is a stone block above the coal seams.
"I recently went to Poland to understand the technical know-how to excavate coal below the stone block. Poland is technically sound," Chattopadhyay said.
Deocha Pachami Dewanganj Harisingha has reserves of 2,102 million tonnes of coal and is spread across 21 villages in Birbhum district.
"Open cast mining at the block cannot be possible. We have to go for underground mining. However, the project is at the initial stage," he said on the sidelines of the "East India Energy Forum" organised by the Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Besides West Bengal, the block was initially allocated to Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh along with public sector undertaking Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd.
"Other states are reluctant to continue and now, it is allocated to us," the minister said.
Industry sources earlier pointed out the issue of the cost factor to lift coal out of the block as the coal seams are concealed within a thick cover of stone.
The minister said the Power Department is planning to complete underground cabling in 75 cities in the state by 2025 to reduce transmission losses and improve the quality power.
According to Chattopadhyay, around Rs 15,000 crore would be invested in various power projects in the state in the coming years.
He said the state was not able to go for large solar projects due to land constraints. However, the solar installed capacity would be up to 200 megawatts within 2019 from the present level of 70 megawatts.