Punjab may be headed for a power crisis as its largest coal supplier has warned of disruption in supplies due to an agitation led by former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi.
Panem Coal Mines Ltd - a joint venture of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and EMTA Group of Companies - which mines about 7 million tons of coal from the Pachwara mines in Jharkhand for the state's power plants, has warned of supplies stopping due to the agitation.
"The situation has now become extremely critical and we are afraid that if the issue is not resolved immediately, the supply of coal to the power stations of Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) shall be affected very badly for days to come," the company's director Bikash Mukherjee wrote to PSPCL on November 21.
The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) chief Babulal Marandi is on a dharna in Pakur district of Jharkhand demanding rehabilitation of people affected by the Panem Coal Mines.
"They have blocked the road to the mines, resulting in total disruption of transportation from mines to the railway siding at Pakur (since November 16)," Mukherjee wrote. "Movement of all required items inward and outward from the mine has come to a grinding halt."
The distance from the mines to the railway siding, which ships the coal to power plants in Punjab, is 55 km, he said, adding that so far the company had been managing from the buffer stock it maintains.
Marandi along with his supporters has been on dharna demanding a tripartite agreement between the Jharkhand government, Panem Coal Mines and the Raj Mahal Pahar Bacchao Samiti to complete all welfare projects promised by the company within a given timeframe.
Stating that Marandi has been "thoroughly mis-informed", Mukherjee said, "the rehabilitation package worked out by the company and approved by both the state and central government is one of the best in the country".
"The rehabilitation package and its implementation schedule has been appreciated by a committee set up by the Indian government," he said, claiming the local villagers are "extremely happy and satisfied" with the economic and social benefits from the mining project.
Mukhejree said Marandi has not responded to efforts made for a dialogue to explain the company's position.
He said he wanted Punjab chief minister to take up the issue with his Jharkhand counterpart so as to resolve the issue immediately.