Sounding a strong warning, including severe shortage of coal for thermal power plants, the Coal Ministry has predicted serious implications for the southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and many northern and western States if important railway lines connecting coal fields in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are not completed in the next three years.

In a note to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Railways, the Coal Ministry has stated that it would not be possible for the State-run Coal India Limited (CIL) to achieve either the targeted production of 615 million tonnes of coal by 2016-17 or any incremental coal production during the 12 Five Year Plan if the railway tracks in these three coal producing States are not put in place in the next three years.

“If the incremental production from Mahanadi coalfields does not materialise, the three States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka would suffer heavily. Likewise, if the unexpected incremental coal does not come from Jharkhand, all northern States would face severe coal shortage, even at the existing thermal power plants. Western States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat will suffer if the proposed railway line in Chhattisgarh does not materialise,” the note has stated.

The rail lines include the Tori-Shivpur-Kathotia (Hazaribagh) BG triple line for the North Karanpura coalfield (CCL Jharkhand) likely to carry 167 million tonnes of coal per annum; the Jharsuguda-Barpali BG double line for IB Valley coalfield (MCL, Orissa) and Bhupdeopur-Korichapar/Broaud-Dharamjaygarh up to Korba (East Corridor 180 km) and Gevra Road to Pendra Road (West Corridor 122 km) in Mand Raigarh coalfield; and double line BG for Mand-Raigarh coalfield (SECL, Chhattisgarh).

The Mand Raigarh coalfield also holds a potential of 100 mt per annum and the Ib and Talcher coal fields hold a potential of about 90 mt per annum.

The matter has also been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which has already taken note of the situation and a held a meeting to fast track the construction of these railway tracks.

The note states that implementation of the above three railway lines could help in enhancing coal production by about 300 mt, which would meet the growing requirements of thermal coal.

In addition to this, it states, the Railways will be able to generate about Rs. 10,000 crore per annum as freight revenue from the incremental coal produced from these coalfields and the State governments would get additional revenue to the tune of Rs. 2,000 crore per annum in the form of royalty and VAT.

The copy has been corrected for factual error.

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