BJP withdraws week-long agitation

Talcher: BJP leaders on Wednesday announced their decision to withdraw the week-long agitation that crippled coal production and supply at Talcher Coalfields of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) in Odisha’s Angul district after a mishap at a mine claimed four lives last week.

MCL officials said they are examining the situation before taking any decision on resumption of operations.

“We have decided to withdraw the agitation following talks with the administration and company officials,” BJP state unit secretary Kalindi Samal told reporters here.

Samal, who spearheaded the stir crippling production in all coal mines in Talcher, said the concerned authorities have promised adequate compensation to the families of those killed in the mishap and safety measures in mining operations.

Talcher coalfields on an average produces 2.1 lakh tonne of coal per day. Production came to a grinding halt from July 24 evening following the accident at Bharatpur Open Cast Project (OCP) in which four workers were killed and nine injured, an MCL Spokesperson said.

While total loss of production and despatch of coal due to work stoppage is estimated over 14 lakh tonne, the quantum loss to the company till today (Wednesday) has been estimated at Rs 149.64 crore and total loss to the state and Central exchequer is estimated to be around Rs 96.86 crore, the spokesperson claimed.

Four workers were killed and nine others injured in the mishap at Bharatpur mine on July 23 night, triggering protest by political parties and others.

BJP activists had launched an agitation demanding a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for families of each deceased.

The agitation stalled coal production in all mines of Talcher Coalfields, said an official.

Due to forced closure of mines, the company has not been able to produce or dispatch coal and no overburden has been removed during these days, the MCL spokesperson said.

This stoppage of work in Talcher coalfields has resulted in huge power generation loss, he claimed.

MCL, a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd, was diverting two rakes of coal from Ib Valley Coalfields to NTPC, Kaniha, efforts have also been made to divert one rake coal from Basundhara Area under Ib Valley Coalfields to NALCO, for which the aluminum company has been requested to arrange rake from the railways, he said.

The MCL had already announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased, along with gratuity, provident fund, full compensation as per the Employees Compensation Act and benefits under the Coal Mines Pension Scheme, the spokesperson said.

The state government has also provided Rs five lakh ex-gratia each to the families of the deceased.