Union Coal Secretary dedicates Piparwar-McCluskieganj Railway project to nation

File Photo: Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd CMD AK Jha (extreme left) and coal secretary Susheel Kumar (next to Jha) at Bharatpur in Talcher Coalfields on Thursday.

Union coal secretary Susheel Kumar dedicated the much-awaited Piparwar- McCluskieganj railway project to the nation by flagging off a goods train at Rajdhar siding in Piparwar district of Jharkhand, a Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) press release said today.

Susheel Kumar flagged off the goods train yesterday, the release said.

The Piparwar – McCluskieganj railway line project was scheduled to be operational in 1998 which got delayed due to various reasons.

The Jharkhand state government has played a pro-active role and extended all support in completing this project, the release said.

The new railway project will save about Rs 100 crore.

Another railway project, Tori-Shivpuri, is scheduled to be completed by June 2018, the release said.

Kumar highlighted the benefits of this project and said that this project will not only reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas but also reduce the cost of coal dispatch, the release said.

It will ultimately benefit consumers, power producing companies, which could charge law power tariffs from the consumers, the release said.

Kumar also pointed out that the Coal Ministry, Coal India and its subsidiary companies like CCL are committed for environmental protection and are working to implement such pending projects at the earliest, the release added.

Time is running out as there are fears that existing thermal power plants in northern states could suffer if the proposed Tori-Shivpur-Kathotia (Hazaribagh) rail link in North Karanpura of Jharkhand does not materialize in time. Once built, Coal India could extract 70 million tonnes (mt), if not 120 mt, of incremental coal production. The other two proposed rail links that will immediately boost coal production by 200 mt per year are a 130-km Bhupdeopur-Baroud line in Chhattisgarh and a 53-km-long Barpali-Jharsuguda-Gopalpur-Manoharpur railway track in the Ib valley coalfields in Odisha. The other option — transporting coal by trucks — is expensive and inefficient. In the Ib valley areas in Odisha, for example, each of the six mines produces some amount of coal that is being transported by road to a distance of about 50 km. Similar arrangements have also been made in the other two states.

The lack of rail logistics has in fact forced the state-run coal major to suppress production. In six opencast Ib valley mines, for example, current production is about a fifth of total capacity.

If these rail projects don’t roll out in the next one year, coal production is expected to hit 550 mt per year, much short of the 750 mt target for 2018-19, according to internal documents available with the ministry of coal.