Power Woes: Congress High Command Fails To End Deadlock Between Chhattisgarh And Rajasthan Over Parsa Coal Block Commissioning

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 2, 2022 03:38 PM +05:30 IST
Power Woes: Congress High Command Fails To End Deadlock Between Chhattisgarh And Rajasthan Over Parsa Coal Block CommissioningRajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
Snapshot
  • While the Rajasthan government is hopeful that the intervention of the Congress high command will help resolve this issue at the earliest, Chief Minister Baghel has cited numerous reasons behind his government’s non-compliance.

Even after the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, the ongoing row between the Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan governments on the issue of commissioning of the Parsa coal mines has not yet been resolved. The deadlock has forced Rajasthan into an excessive coal shortage, thereby adversely affecting power generation in the state.

Earlier, on the request of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had asked Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to take a positive approach in granting permission for coal mining from the Parsa coal block, allotted to Rajasthan in 2015.

While the Rajasthan government is hopeful that the intervention of the Congress high command will help resolve this issue at the earliest, Chief Minister Baghel has cited numerous reasons behind his government’s non-compliance.

The Parsa coal block is estimated to have a supply capacity of 2.7 rake coal per day and a production capacity of five million tonnes of coal annually.

Internal Committee To Find Solution

As per this report, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on Sunday (27 February), held a meeting with the Gehlot and Baghel. While the Rajasthan Chief Minister reportedly raised the issue of urgent commissioning of the Parsa coal mines in Chhattisgarh to his state, Baghel explained that the non-compliance on his part is due to some pending approvals from the central government, troubles in land acquisition, and increasing opposition of the tribal society, environmentalists and local leaders.

After this, Rahul Gandhi assured both the chief ministers that the Congress party would soon form an internal committee on this issue, which would take stock of the coal mine allotted to the Rajasthan government in Chhattisgarh. Any decision on this issue will be taken only after the said committee files its report to the party.

However, it must be noted that the central government, in October 2021, had already given the approval to Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) for mining an area of 1,136 hectares in Phase-II of Parsa East and Kanta Basin of Chhattisgarh and 5 million tonnes of coal annually in Parsa Coal Mines.

Unannounced Power Cut Misery For Farmers

The Gehlot government is pressurising the Chhattisgarh government to commence mining at the Parsa coal block at Surguja in Chhattisgarh. They argue that due to non-commissioning of this mine, there has been a coal crisis in the power stations of the state. Out of the total 7,580 MW thermal power capacity of the state, the generation of about 4,000 MW is being affected, as most power plants are running at low capacity.

Due to low power generation, the Rajasthan government has resorted to unannounced power cuts in rural areas, and in the towns and cities citing maintenance works. The farmers are also concerned about not getting enough electricity for irrigation purposes.

Rajasthan Faces Unprecedented Power Crisis

The Gehlot government is continuously in talks with the Baghel government for over three months now. Initially, there was a dialogue at the level of administrative officers, then Energy Minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati spoke to the ministers and officials of the Chhattisgarh government. Following this, Gehlot had written several times to Baghel to issue clearance for the said coal mines.

As no convincing response was received from Baghel’s end, Gehlot had then written three letters requesting Congress President Sonia Gandhi to intervene in the matter. In the third letter, Gehlot has directly warned that if Chhattisgarh does not start coal supply soon, there may be an unprecedented power crisis in Rajasthan.

Gehlot wrote in the letter that if there is a delay in starting the new mines, and hence, a shortage in the existing coal mines, the state government will be forced to buy coal or electricity, or maybe both, from an external source at comparatively higher costs.

As a result, there will be a further increase in duty rates on electricity in Rajasthan. This could have negative political ramifications as electricity rates were recently hiked by 33 paise per unit, making electricity costlier in the state. At present, electricity is being purchased at the rate of Rs 5.73 per unit. This rate may also increase during the summer season.

Gehlot is constantly monitoring the power generation and distribution, and the Rajasthan government is aiming to restore optimum power generation before the onset of summer.

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