RAIPUR/BHUBANESWAR: Indian Railways has just completed laying a much-awaited INR 1,005 crore, 51 km track in Odisha that connects a large coal reserve in the state’s Ib valley with the rest of the country. Coal India has decided to start loading and transporting two rakes a day this month while the final plan is to transport 60 million tonnes a year. The project that connects the Sardega-Barpali loading sidings with the Jharsuguda and Dhutra stations of South Eastern Railway was delayed by several years due to land acquisition and forest clearance issues. It has been finally completed and will now allow Coal India to ramp up production by 60 million tonnes in phases.
A senior Coal India executive said that “The tracks have been laid and tested for safety. However, signalling systems have not been installed yet. We will not wait for the railways to complete installation of signals and other facilities. Initially, two rakes will run, which will be increased as and when other facilities are completed.”
According to the plan, Coal India subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) will raise production to 21 million tonnes from coal mines in the Gopalpur-Manoharpur area in the Ib valley near Jharsuguda in Odisha. The Gopalpur-Manoharpur coal blocks are located toward the north of SE Railway’s Howrah-Mumbai trunk route and west of the Ib river.
A MoU was signed between SE Railway and MCL in 2005-6 and the project was initially sanctioned in 2009.
Jharsuguda is a junction station of the Chakradharpur Division of South Eastern Railway having a large yard, which will facilitate the movement of rakes. It may reduce the cost of infrastructure in the sidings on the one hand and lower the requirement of additional holding lines. Coal from MCL’s Gopalpur-Manoharpur block can be sent to power houses in the east and south through last-mile connectivity taking off from Jharsuguda station, which will be shorter and more costeffective.
The connection can also be utilised for the movement of coal to the west via Bilaspur and to the south via Sambalpur and Titagarh.
The Gopalpur-Manoharpur blocks encompass a large number of collieries–Garjanbahal, Kulda, Basundhara West (expansion), Chaturdhara, Madhupur, Siarmal and Siarmal West (expansion). These blocks are at different stages of development. Mining activities have initially been at five blocks–Basundhara West (expansion), Garjanbahal, Kulda, Siarmal and Siarmal West.
From Garjanbahal coal block, the initial loading will be 18 million tonnes per year, rising to 33 million tonnes annually in 2021-22, which will be further increased to 60 million tonnes in 2031-32, with the inclusion of production from Siarmal and Siarmal West (expansion).
Large reserves of Coal Blocks found in North-Eastern Region
Minister of Railways and Coal Mr Piyush Goyal informed the Rajya Sabha that as per Geological Survey of India, Coal Inventory, coal resources are found in the North Eastern region in following States/ Coalfields:
|S.No.||State||Coalfield||Resource (In Million Tonnes)|
Further, the blocks/mines under North Eastern Coalfields (NEC)of Coal India Ltd. are given in table below :
|S.No.||Coal Company||Name of Coalfield||Block/Mine|
|1||NEC/CIL||Makum||Baragolai West & Tikak Opencast|
|2||NEC/CIL||Makum||Tirap OCP, Tirap UG, Lachit Khani UG Block|
|3||NEC/CIL||Makum||Ledo Mechanised OCP Block|
|8||NEC/CIL||Dilli-Jeypore||Jeypore UG Block|
|10||NEC/CIL||Namchik Namphuk||Namchik Namphuk|