The public-sector National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has failed to develop the Utkal D and Utkal E coal blocks at Chhendipada of Angul even after five long years of their allotment, seriously affecting its energy security. The Government of India has allocated these two coal blocks to the Nalco in May 2016 for fuel supply to its captive power plant. The Nalco was supposed to develop the coal blocks within 44 months after their allotment.
But till now, for a complete land acquisition process a meeting of the Project Land Rehabilitation & Resettlement Committee (PLRRC) has not been held as yet. Besides, a high-power RPDAC meeting has also not been held, for which a rehabilitation and resettlement (RR) package has not been finalised for the affected people. All this has led to an inordinate delay to start the mining work. Seven villages of Chhendipada block, namely, Nandighos, Raijharan, Kosala, Gopinathpur, Jungle, Kundajharinala and Similisahi, would be affected by the coalmining. Around 700 extended families of these villages would be displaced.
Apart from it, vast common property resources and ecology would be affected by the coalmining. “While an RR package has not yet been finalised even after five years for this most important project, further delay of the project work will seriously affect the energy security of the company,” said Angul Citizen Action Forum secretary advocate Pradeep Panda.
“The allotted coal blocks may be developed at the earliest to ensure supply of coal to the captive power plant," the CAG had said in its report tabled in Parliament.
Previously in August 2004, the Government of India had allotted the Utkal-E coal block to the Nalco to meet the additional requirement of coal for its captive power plant (CPP) for its capacity expansion from 960 MW to 1,200 MW. However, the Nalco failed to implement the project in due time and subsequently faced cancellation of allocation of this coal block following a Supreme Court order to de-allocate 204 coal blocks across the country.
The same was again re-allotted by the GoI along with another coal block, (Utkal-D), to the company in 2016. However, both the captive coal blocks are yet to be developed. The Nalco’s smelter plant comprised of 960 pots and generally 935 pots were operated at a time.
It was observed that the average number of pots in operation ranged from 648 pots to 842 pots due to non-availability of adequate power supply from the CPP for want of required coal in specific time and year. Moreover, the company could not reap the full benefits of the capacity expansion of CPP and smelter plant after investing Rs 2,986 crore.
The Nalco management many times stated that production of aluminium in the smelter plant was restricted keeping in view the availability of economical power from the CPP. The Mines Ministry also endorsed this view. In view of this, the CAG also previously asked the Nalco to develop the coal blocks at earliest to ensure fuel supply to its power plant.