After lengthy communication over coal supply, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot arrived in Raipur on Friday and held lengthy meetings with his Chhattisgarh rival Bhupesh Baghel.
After the meeting, Baghel told reporters that the Rajasthan chief minister had expressed concern over the supply of coal, adding that there was a long-standing relationship between the center and the Rajasthan government. The Rajasthan government was allotted coal blocks in Chhattisgarh as per the rules of the Center and the process is going on as per the law, he added.
Baghel clarified that the mines belong to the Chhattisgarh government but focus on the allocation of coal reserves. Even his government gets its stock through the central allocation system, he said.
Baghel made it clear that appropriate legal procedures would be followed and local concerns, especially those related to the environment, would be addressed. With this in mind, the Lemru Elephant Reserve was established in the northern part of the state and an area of 1,995 sq km was informed to preserve the environment, biodiversity and Hasdeo Bango Dam, Baghel said.
The reserve limits include 39 coal blocks, including two given to the Chhattisgarh government, he added.
Rajasthan state-owned corporations have won several coal blocks in Chhattisgarh in the past, but a number of environmental groups have opposed the mining, citing damage to forests and other local biodiversity in Hasdeo.
Reacting to Baghel’s statement, Gehlot said that he appreciated the environmental concerns raised by Baghel but the Center allocates these coal blocks to the states after proper evaluation. “We are demanding supply from Parsa East and Kanta Bosan blocks and the new 5 million tonne block in Parsa,” Gehlot said. The Rajasthan government may face possible blackouts due to shortage of coal supply in 4500 MW power plants. The Chhattisgarh government is not cooperating.
The Rajasthan chief minister termed the possible coal blackout as a serious problem and said that was why he visited the state in the hope that Chhattisgarh would take a decision soon. “We have appealed in the past but there may be some obligations that have forced you not to accept the application,” he added.
For the past two years, Gehlot has been pushing Baghel for early clearance for the two coal blocks allotted to his government in Chhattisgarh, even seeking the intervention of the Center and the Congress High Command.
In a letter to Baghel in 2020, Gehlot subsequently requested for expeditious approval for the initial development of the Parsa and Kent Extension coal blocks and the continued operation of the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) blocks, enabling RVUNL to meet its energy needs. Of the state. “The state has invested more than Rs 40,000 crore in setting up thermal power plants. These coal blocks meet most of the coal requirements of the existing as well as the upcoming Rajasthan State Power Generation Corporation Limited power stations and are essential for ensuring energy security in the form of uninterrupted supply of coal for power generation in the state, ”he wrote.
Coal Block, Parsa, Parsa East, Kente Basan and Kente Extension are located in Sarguja, Chhattisgarh. Three of these were allotted to Rajasthan in 2014 but locals have protested the move as the area also falls under the Hasdeo Arand forest. Indigenous rights groups are also opposing mining in the forest, a century-old natural forest rich in biodiversity.
According to officials, the first phase of mining began in 2013 on more than 762 hectares of land in the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) blocks allocated by RVUNL in 2007. The other two blocks – Parsa and Kente extension blocks were allotted in 2015. Rajasthan Power Utility PEKB wants to start mining activities in the second phase.
RVUNL has received forest clearance from the central government for mining in the second phase of PEKB and Parsa block and further necessary approvals are said to be under consideration before the Chhattisgarh government.
Development in the Kent extension has stalled because a public hearing has not been held, and residents of villages in these two blocks have long opposed mining.
(With input PTI)
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