In a move that could add fuel to the “troubled relations” between the Congress and its ally, Trinamool Congress, the State-run Coal India Limited (CIL) on Monday raised serious concerns over the “law and order” situation in West Bengal and Jharkhand, alleging that “illegal coal mining and unparallel run of the coal mafia” in the two States was causing heavy losses to the exchequer and hampering production of nearly 40,000 tonnes of coal in this crisis-like situation.
Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), a subsidiary of CIL, said such was the adverse impact of the coal mafia and illegal mining that it was causing Rs. 12 crore loss in revenue every month and a whopping Rs. 144 crore per annum from these fields alone.
“Many productive mines have come to a standstill. Due to continuous disruptions caused by the coal mafia and anti-social elements near Raniganj area in West Bengal, 40,000 tonnes of coal production is being hampered every month, which could lead to a severe power crisis in the region,” ECL said in a statement here.
In November 2011, a social activist, Sister Valsa, was murdered in Pakur district of Jharkhand and the finger of suspicion was pointed at the powerful coal mafia.
ECL said loss caused due to stoppage of coal production could be judged through two mines of Narayankudi and North Seyarsole, where the company was incurring a loss of Rs. 120 million every month. The government was also losing huge revenue in the form of royalty.
“Less production has adversely affected the coal supply to the nearby power plants and industries,'' it said, warning against impeding power crisis.
The company said illegal mining by mafia groups was posing a danger to several towns and villages, agricultural land and commercial establishments in the vicinity of these mines. It led to flooding of the North Seyarsole mines during the last monsoon, forcing complete suspension of production activities. “When ECL tried to depute miners from these mines to other working collieries, it had to face stiff resistance from local groups. Still, the workers of these mines are not able to work in other mines due to the provocation of the agitating local groups [mafia],'' a senior ECL official said.
The official said the mining operations had also come to a standstill at the Narayankudi mines, which had a huge reserve of good quality of thermal coal.
“Illegal miners under the influence of local groups have been halting production on the plea of environment pollution and conservation of so-called heritage building related to the Tagore family. The company had got all approvals from different agencies, including local bodies like gram panchayats, before starting mining operations,” the statement added.
It said that ECL had already reported the matter of forcible stoppage of production and illegal mining to the local administration a number of times and if the situation was not controlled in time it might worsen the financial condition of ECL, which was already incurring losses.