Maoist attack deepens Bengal power troubles

ASANSOL: The January 10 Maoist attack on a coalmine at Pachwara Central in Jharkhand has cast a cloud on thermal power plants in Bengal.

Officials of Emta Coal Company – which mines the Pachwara south block, adjacent to the attack site – is worried that such attacks might disrupt their operation to produce 15 million tones of coal per annum. A coal supply crunch would stifle Bengal’s power plants that are already reeling under rising coal prices.

Large parts of the state suffered power cuts late last year because of the coal shortage.

On Wednesday, Maoists had killed a private security guard and torched three heavy earth movers in Pakur. Emta immediately sent an SOS to power minister Manish Gupta and also drew the attention of the chief minister. Gupta has already taken up the matter with his counterpart in Jharkhand.

Emta director Biswanath Dutta said, “Pachwara is regarded as a model coal mine in the country. We have provided 800 jobs to local people. I spoke to the Jharkhand DGP immediately after the incident and demanded his intervention.” Jharkhand DG Gouri Shankar Rath has promised to deploy IRB jawans near the mining site.

However, workers felt the situation was turning hostile for the locals. If mining gets hampered in Pachwara, thermal power plants would be the worst-hit. After the rise in coal costs, a supply crunch would be disastrous for the power scenario. If work continues, Emta Coal is likely reach its optimum production target of 15 million tonne that will finally touch the 18-million tonne mark, officials say. This will minimise the government’s dependence on supply from Coal India Ltd.

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