Chhattisgarh government's spokesperson and Cabinet minister Ravindra Choubey on Tuesday, 21 December, said that the state government has objections to the Rajasthan government's partner in coal mining.
Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) has been allocated three coal blocks, namely Parsa East Kente Basan (PEKB), Parsa coal block in Surguja, and Kente Extension, two of which have Adani Enterprises as their Mine Developer and Operator (MDO). However, only the PEKB coal mine has been operational till now.
The minister's comments came after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wrote a letter to Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi requesting her to intervene to speed up clearances for coal production so that mining in coal blocks allotted to the Rajasthan government can begin.
In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot said: "In Chhattisgarh's Parsa coal mine which is allotted to Rajasthan, around 4,340 MW power generation can come to standstill due to non-clearance of mining permits," reported ANI.
The letter further read, "Recently, due to the shortage of coal in Rajasthan, the state government was forced to increase the power here by 33 paise per unit. However, if no positive response comes from the Chhattisgarh government, then Rajasthan will face a difficult time".
Gehlot vs Baghel on Coal Mine Permits?
Earlier, Ashok Gehlot had written twice to his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel asking him to expedite the process of state-level clearances for the coal mines allotted to Rajasthan.
In his previous letters, Gehlot mentioned that there are many state-level clearances pending approval which are pre-requisite to the excavation of coal from the mines allotted.
The letter also mentioned that the central government had given phase-II forest clearance on 21 October 2021 for the Parsa coal block allotted to Rajasthan in 2015. However, now the Chhattisgarh government has to issue the stage-II forest clearance for Parsa coal block along with a few other permits.
According to an India Today report, the Chhattisgarh government is unable to give environmental clearance for the mines due to opposition from the local people.
Talking about the recent developments in the coal mining process, Chhattisgarh-based lawyer Sudiep Shrivastava said:
“Rajasthan’s CM Ashok Gehlot's assertion that 4,340 MW power supply would be interrupted is misleading. Parsa can produce only 5 million tons per annum of coal, which can generate 1,000 megawatt only,"
"There is a lot at stake for Chhattisgarh and a big protest and several allegations including that of fake gram sabhas by the tribals of Hasdeo. Moreover, the recent report by the Wildlife Institute of India’s (WII) report has strongly opposed any new mining permissions in the area. The Chhattisgarh state should inspect the allegations as well as reservations first before issuing permissions for the new mines in Hasdeo,” he added.
A senior official in RRVUNL told The Quint that they are expecting a major coal shortage after the reserves in PEKB coal mines are exhausted, and that is why the state is left with no choice but to seek all possible ways to meet its requirement.
Notably, Rajasthan faced an electricity shortage in September and October this year due to the coal shortage, which resulted in a majority of its thermal units being shut down.
While the Rajasthan government is pushing for expedited clearances to start its coal mine in Chhattisgarh, the state has also signed an agreement with the Uttar Pradesh government to procure 700MW power till February 2022 under a banking scheme that will allow Rajasthan to return the borrowed power from August 2022.