TALCHER: Production and dispatch of coal from Talcher Coalfield was paralysed on Friday due to the strike by Talcher Surakhya Manch. The strike also forced all the eight mines operating at the coalfield to shut down for an indefinite period. Talcher Coalfield feeds coal to power stations in 10 States, including Odisha. It accounts for 60 per cent coal production of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL).
Demanding fulfilment of 16-point charter of demands, activists of the Manch stopped all the coal mines at Talcher and Kaniha in the morning. They also paralysed coal movement by road and rail. The agitators shut down shops and business establishments but exempted vehicular traffic from the blockade.
Demands of the Manch include implementation of State Rehabilitation Policy, 2006, functioning of medical college, construction of Angul-Talcher rail line, extension of passenger train services up to Kaniha, formation of new coal company and filling up void coal mines at Talcher.
“The strike was a success as production and dispatch of coal were totally paralysed. The blockade will continue till our demands are met,” said Manch president Murali Sahu.
“There was total loss of coal production and dispatch due to the blockade. No coal was sent to any power station in the country despite distress calls from them,” said a top MCL official.
The loss of production due to the strike was pegged at around three lakh tonne and the dispatch 2.8 lakh tonne on the day. While the State and the Centre incurred a loss of `18 crore due to the shutdown, MCL suffered a loss of `24 crore.
Director of MCL (Technical) O P Singh dashed off a letter to the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary apprising them of the situation in Talcher. On Thursday, Collector Anil Kumar Samal had called a meeting of MCL authorities and leaders of the Manch to break the impasse.
Talcher Sub-Collector Paresh Chandra Nayak said it is a matter of regret that the strike was held despite the meeting with Collector. Efforts are on to end the blockade, he added.