Wed, 18 May 2022

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 18 (ANI): Congress leaders from Maharashtra and Rajasthan have written to party president Sonia Gandhi about the roadblocks faced by their respective power utilities when it comes to dealing with Bhupesh Baghel-led government in Chhattisgarh.

They have warned that a lack of cooperation by the state ruled by their own party will not only affect the performance of Congress governments in Rajasthan and coalition government in Maharashtra but also create a precarious situation for the party.

Because of coal shortages in the past few months, Rajasthan increased the power tariff by 33 paise in November last year. Maharashtra, too, is facing severe coal shortages for its 3230 MW of installed power capacity if its coal mine in Chhattisgarh is not approved by the Baghel government. On Sunday, Baghel, who is senior Congress observer for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, said his party is working for the common man.

Congress-ruled and supported states raised their grievances against their own colleagues when Baghel is campaigning for the party ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election and planning to host global investors summit to attract investments in Chhattisgarh.

After Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wrote to Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra's Energy minister and Congress leader Dr Nitin Raut has written to her seeking her intervention to advise Baghel to expedite recommending proposal to Union Environment Ministry for timely forest clearance for Gare Palma-II coal mine so that mining activities can be started at the earliest.

The letter, written towards last of December, has been reviewed by ANI.

Congress is a coalition partner with Shiv Sena and National Congress Party in the Maharashtra government.

"I have already pursued the matter with Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh vide letter dated December 23, 2021, and over the telephone for expediting recommendation of the Forest Clearance Proposal to Ministry of Environment, ForestClimate Change (MoEFCC), so that the coal excavation can be started and coal can be made available for the state-owned thermal power plants," Raut said in the letter.

"As stated above, the proposal is not yet recommended by the State of Chhattisgarh to MoEFCC, which may result in a delay in the commencement of mining operations. This will impact on the performance of Government of Maharashtra and create a precarious situation as both the states are governed by Congress," he added.

The Centre allocated three coal mines to Rajasthan and one to Maharashtra to ensure cheaper and reliable fuel supplies for their respective power projects. They have already got the clearances from the Centre's BJP government. However, both the states are yet to get final approvals from the Baghel administration to produce coal for their power utilities.

Chhattisgarh is India's largest coal-producing state with close to 150 million tonnes of thermal coal, which is preferred by power utilities on account of its quality. Coal production is dominated by the public sector unit Coal India and state utilities. In the past few weeks, bureaucrats of Rajasthan and Maharashtra have also reached out to the Centre for its intervention to ensure their respective coal blocks become operational in Chhattisgarh.

Gehlot, in his letter of December 1 to Sonia Gandhi, had drawn her attention towards his state's struggle for coal.

"I have requested the Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh vide letters dated October 11, 2021 and November 15, 2021, and over the telephone also for arranging these approvals, so that mining from this block can be started and coal can be made available to the state-owned power generating stations. It is well known that for the last couple of months coal power generating stations are facing an acute shortage of coal across India, including Rajasthan," .

India produces close to 750 million tonnes of coal and imports about 150 million tonnes of coal. With stagnated domestic production coupled with rising coal prices in the international market, state-owned power utilities are trying to operationalise their own coal blocks to ensure reliable and affordable coal supply for the long term. (ANI)

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