The Utkal Chamber Of Commerce & Industry Ltd (UCCI), an association of industries, has urged the Odisha government to ensure adequate supply of coal to state-based industries which are facing an acute shortage of dry fuel to run their units.

In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the UCCI Friday said: "We would like to bring to your kind attention the current acute coal shortage situation in the state with many units having stock out or critical coal stock seriously affecting the viable operation of the industrial units."

While the suffering of small and medium industries are increasing day by day, large process industries like steel plants, aluminium smelters and others are operating at a level where their operations are likely to become unviable if the situation continues unabated, the letter said.

Since these units with small and medium industries of the state provide employment to lakhs of people, the UCCI apprehended that the coal shortage situation may give a deadly blow to the continuance of the employment of these people.

Though the state is blessed with abundant coal reserves, Odisha-based local industries are facing a coal deficit and forced to import coal /power as they are not getting enough share of coal, UCCI president Brahma Mishra said.

The state has coal reserves (about 25% of country deposits), and Coal India Ltd (CIL) subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) produces 150 million tonnes of coal. The Odisha based power plants (16,000 MW) requires 90-95 million tonnes of coal per annum, which is 60% of Odisha's coal production for cost-effective sustainable industry operations.

However, over 65 per cent of Odisha's coal is being supplied to power plants based in other states. Hence, the Odisha-based local industries are facing a coal deficit and are forced to import coal /power as they are getting less than 45% of Odisha's coal production, the UCCI said.

The industries body said that this is depriving the state of domestic value addition and creating local jobs and MSMEs within Odisha. Also, the acute coal shortage in the state is jeopardizing the manufacturing sector in the state further hurting the sentiments of global investors.

The UCCI also requested the state government to communicate to the Ministry of Coal to give necessary direction to MCL and CIL to step up the supply of coal to local industries in the state so that stock out of coal is obviated and safe level of coal stock is maintained in critical units to prevent any eventualities in operations.