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Ramakanta Biswas

The Orissa High Court on Monday ordered a high-level meeting to find a way to resolve the unprecedented coal crisis faced by the National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and ensure that the Central PSU's smelter plant at Angul and refinery at Damanjodi are not pushed to the brink of a shut down. 

A division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik passed the order while hearing a petition filed by Nalco Officers’ Association seeking a direction as the plant is facing a serious crisis of coal. 

The bench directed that the meeting should be conducted by the Secretaries of Power, Coal, Mines and the Chairman, Railway Board with the Managing Directors (MDs) of MCL and the NALCO not later than 6 pm tomorrow (April 26). 

"Since the essential dispute concerns two Central Government Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) i.e. MCL on the one hand and NALCO on the other, and also involves the role of the Railways which is the third Central Government undertaking in the picture, the Court considers its appropriate to direct that the Secretary Power, the Secretary Coal, the Secretary Mines and the Chairman, Railway Board will sit together in virtual or hybrid mode with the Managing Directors (MDs) of MCL and the NALCO not later than 6 p.m. tomorrow i.e. 26th April 2022 to find the way of resolving the crises with a view to ensuring that the smelter plant of NALCO at Angul and make arrangement put in place so that the smelter plant of NALCO at Angul and its Alumina refinery at Damanjodi are not pushed to the brink of a shut down,” the HC bench said.

The bench said that the minutes of the deliberations of the meeting be placed before it on the next date of hearing. The next hearing is scheduled for April 27. 

The bench made it clear that the interim order it had passed on April 22 will continue till the next hearing. In its interim order, the court had directed the East Coast Railway (ECoR) to consider allotment of four rakes per day on a priority basis to transport coal from Bharatpur mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) to NALCO’s plant in Angul if such a request is made.

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