New Delhi: Power-short Punjab may face further deficit as agitation led by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi threatens to block lifeline coal supplies to the state's power plants.
   
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, if the issue is not resolved immediately, the suppy of coal to the power stations of Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) shall be affected very badly for days to come," company Director Bikash Mukherjee wrote to PSPCL this week.
    
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 approach road to the mines, resulting in total disruption of transportation form mines to the railway siding at Pakur (since November 16)," Mukherjee wrote on November 21. "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 so far the company had been managing from the buffer stock it maintains.
    
Marandi along with his supports 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-infomed", 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 Government of India," 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 wanted Punjab Chief Minister to take up the issue with his Jharkhand counterpart to as to resolve the issue immediately.

(Agencies)

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