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Verify details before asking for coal blocks, Energy minister tells user agencies


arun sahu

Reported by Chinmaya Dehury/Edited by Sandeep Sahu

Bhubaneswar, Sep 9:

In the backdrop of the faux pas over the Tentuloi cola block, Energy minister Arun Sahu has asked all user agencies to verify the details of coal blocks they are seeking before sending in applications for their allocation to the Centre.

“In future, whenever seeking allocation of any coal block to the state, the Steel & Mines department and user department may collect all available information about the blocks and file application accordingly,” said Sahoo in a recent order to the concerned departments.

After being allocated the Tentuloi coal block for its proposed 2400 MW power plant, the Odisha Thermal Power Corporation Limited (OTPCL), a state government PSU, found to its dismay that extraction from the underground block with reserves of 1, 234 million tonnes of coal will push up power generation costs by as much as 25%. The realisation led Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to write to the Union Coal ministry seeking an alternate coal block for OTPCL citing that the high cost of mining would make the power project unviable.

The Tentuloi block was awarded to OTPCL towards end of July this year. Though the state government had sought Chandrabila coal block for OTPCL, the Union Coal ministry awarded the block to NTPC instead and gave Tentuloi to OTPCL. Coal from Tentuloi could be excavated only after digging 300 metres and this was bound to escalate coal production cost, ultimately impacting expenditure on power generation.

OTPCL is a 50:50 joint venture between Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC). The 2,400 MW project of OTPCL is proposed at Kamakhyanagar in Dhenkanal district at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore.