The Y.K. Modi-promoted Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEECL) has written to the Centre that areas allocated to it for gas exploration are being mined illegally.
GEECL’s chairman and CEO, Y.K. Modi said in his letter to minister of state for coal Shriprakash Jaiswal that such illegal mining could prove “very dangerous as methane accounts for maximum blasts in mines.”
Coal bed methane (CBM) or natural gas produced from coal seams is emerging as a clean and important source of energy for the country.
“Such illegal mining can pose a serious threat to fragile environment as methane (gas from coal) will be suspended in the air and pose a serious threat to CBM reservoir and CBM wells,” Modi said.
He said miners like state-owned Coal India Ltd and its subsidiary Eastern Coalfields Ltd were encroaching upon areas licensed to GEECL for CBM exploration.
Unauthorised coal mining in its licensed area was adversely affecting its CBM operations, Modi said in his letter to Jaiswal.
Coal India CMD Partha S Bhattacharyya denied knowledge of the issue. “We have not heard anything so far from the ministry on this,” he told Hindustan Times. “In any case, this is highly unlikely as the boundaries are marked and any such possibility (of unauthorised or illegal mining) does not arise.”
In December, 1993, GEECL had signed a MoU with Coal India Limited (CIL) for exploration of CBM from an area of 225 sq km in Raniganj (South), West Bengal.
The coal mining is “in clear violation of GEECL’s rights granted” under its contract with the central and state government, Modi’s letter said.
“Provisions of PSC (GEECL’s contract with the central government) specifically provides that CBM and coal mining cannot be undertaken by anyone other than the operator to whom the block is granted,” the letter said, adding “Huge losses of revenue both to state and centre” to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore during the life of the block.