Odisha coal block: State loses a mining opportunity - The New Indian Express

Odisha coal block: State loses a mining opportunity

Published: 14th December 2012 12:20 PM

Last Updated: 14th December 2012 12:20 PM

Kerala’s big plans for the Baitarani west coal block in Odisha has bitten the dust with the Centre deallocating the 602-million-tonne coal block citing lack of progress.

The coal block, allocated jointly to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB),  Odisha Hydro-Power Corporation (OHPC) and Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd (GPCL), was deallocated on Monday on the recommendation of the inter-ministerial group (IMG)  which found scant progress in the mining of coal.

The coal block was allocated to the three PSUs on July 25, 2007. The letter from the Coal Ministry informing Kerala of the deallocation reached the Chief Secretary on Wednesday.

The IMG noted that though a JV for exploration of the coal block between the three PSUs was formed in 2008, there is no production till now.

Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed confirmed that the coal block had indeed been deallocated.

He said the state government will write to the Centre to withdraw the deallocation.

“Delay in land acquisition by the Odisha Government was the biggest hurdle in starting the mining. Also, Odisha wanted the entire coal block to itself. On our part, we had been in a dilemma about what to do with our share of the coal,” Aryadan said.

Kerala’s original plan was to establish a 2400 MW thermal power plant in Cheemeni, Kasargod district, using the coal from Odisha. But this idea was scrapped following environmental concerns and the Cheemeni project was converted into an LNG-based one. Another plan to establish a coal-based thermal power plant in Odisha also did not work out as the latter was not keen on the project.

Of late, Kerala had been in discussions with the National Thermal Power Corporation to see whether its share could be used by the NTPC in exchange for electricity. The state had also been toying with the idea of inviting private bids for the coal if the NTPC plan failed.

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