Rail Infra upgrade needed for more Coal from Talcher: Coal Minister Piyush Goyal

Coal minister bats for rail network in Odisha. Piyush Goyal hints that Odisha to earn over Rs 45,600 crore from coal block auction

Coal Minister Mr.Piyush Goyal visits Talcher Coalfields of MCL in Odisha
Coal Minister Mr.Piyush Goyal visits Talcher Coalfields of MCL in Odisha

Bhubaneswar (BBS): Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said he has suggested to the Odisha government to ink a joint venture with Coal India Limited (CIL) to create a rail network for evacuation of coal from the mines in the state.

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) – Mahanadi Coal Railway – has been incorporated for the purpose to target evacuation of 300 million tonnes of coal per annum from Talcher in Odisha.

MCL produced 121 MT coal in 2014-15. The Coal Minister sought the state government’s support for upgradation of railway network in the region.

“We have placed a proposal before the Odisha government to support the Centre’s efforts to upgrade railway network in Talcher area so that the volume of coal evacuation is enhanced from the present 75 million tonnes to 300 million tonnes in coming days,” Union Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here.

Affirming NDA-led Centre’s resolve to maintain transparency in coal mine allocation, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said Odisha is set to gain over Rs 45,600 crore from the current phase of coal block auction.  “Mineral-rich Odisha will benefit immensely from the process of coal block auction. The state is all set to earn over Rs 45,600 crore after the present phase of coal mine auction,” he said here during his maiden visit to Odisha as a Union Minister.

Claiming that coal mines were earlier being allocated free of cost in an arbitrary manner, Goyal said the Narendra Modi government has introduced e-auction route, making allocation of coal blocks an entirely transparent affair. Seeking cooperation of the state for proper implementation of various central projects, the Union Minister announced that MCL would bear the medical expenses of all freedom fighters in Odisha.

Other CPSUs like NALCO and NTPC should also take quick steps for setting up such medical institutes and hospitals as part of their CSR activities, Patnaik said.

Also speaking on the occasion, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the NDA government was keen to work in coordination with the state government to ensure speedy and balanced development of Odisha.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal reviews Coal, Power, New and Renewable Energy Sector Development in Odisha Thursday
Union Minister Piyush Goyal reviews Coal, Power, New and Renewable Energy Sector Development in Odisha Thursday

Noting that expansion of railway network in Talcher area is essential for development of the country, Goyal said the state will immensely benefit from the project. Informing that seven coal mines of the state have already been allocated to public sector undertakings and private players, the minister said Odisha would earn about Rs.45,000 crore from e-auction of coal mines in the coming years.

“The state will earn as much as Rs 1,000 crore per annum after upgradation of railway network in Talcher,” he said, adding that the government has assured “full support”.

Meanwhile, Mahanadi Coalfield (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India, recently partnered with IRCON International and state-owned IDCO (Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation) and set up Mahanadi Coal Railway to develop the rail infrastructure in the state.

MCL, IRCON and IDCO will have equity ratio of 64:26:10 in the Joint Venture, MCL officials said, adding one of the foremost tasks before the new company is to develop 14 km of Angul-Balram rail link in the initial phase, which could transport 92 million tonnes of coal. SPV is a subsidiary company with an asset/liability structure and legal status that makes its obligations secure even if the parent company goes bankrupt.

In due course, this rail link will complete the Angul-Balram-Talcher-Angul loop to facilitate uni-directional movement of wagons.

In the second phase, the company is expected to take up the Jharsuguda-Barpali-Sardega rail link, which will enable Basundhara Coalfield to produce 85 MT as compared to its current production of 10 MT.

“This SPV will not only cater to the current evacuation need of the company but it will also identify the evacuation constraints, which impede the growth of MCL,” added the statement.

In the second phase, the company is expected to take up Jharsuguda-Barpali-Serdega Rail link, which will enable Basundhara Coalfield to produce 85 mt compared with its production of only 10 mt. Both the rail projects are considered very critical for MCL for achieving its higher growth potential.

MCL, which in 2014-15 produced 121 mt of coal, has planned to produce 250 mt by 2019-20. Improved coal evacuation in future through this SPV will help close the gap between demand and supply of coal.

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