However, the CM's office has insisted on a balanced policy which specifically addresses the concerns of the people to be displaced by coal washery projects and also factors in the pollution load which the state has to bear as a consequence of washing of coal with high ash content.
"Legally, there is no restriction on transporting coal out of the state, but the CM's office has emphasized on framing a policy for the purpose. The contours of the policy are yet to be decided, but broadly it will factor in the interests of the people to be displaced by coal washery projects and the pollution load that will fall on the state as a result of implementation of such projects", a highly placed official source told Business Standard.
Earlier, the state steel & mines department had recommended that the state should be suitably compensated given that GMDC was allocated the coal block for setting up a power plant and the company needs to wash coal in the state before transporting it.
The Naini coal block under Talcher Coalfields under the command area of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) was allocated jointly to GMDC and Puducherry Industrial Promotion Development & Investment Corporation (PIPDIC) Ltd for setting up power plants. While GMDC had proposed to set up 1500 MW power plant in Angul district, PIPDIC Ltd was to set up 1800-2000 MW power plant at an undecided location in the state.
Apart from GMDC, Kerala State Electricity Board (KEB), Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation, Assam Mineral Development Corporation and Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation have been allocated coal blocks for the purpose of setting up power projects.
Washing of coal within the state had snowballed into a major issue with the Orissa government drawing the attention of the Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) on the matter.
In February this year, the state Chief Secretary B K Patnaik had shot off a letter to the secretary, MoEF not to insist on the use of washed coal in the thermal power plants while according environmental clearance as this stipulation is creating disproportionately higher pollution load on the state having coal reserves.
Further, the state had suggested that MoEF may consider removal of the restriction imposed by the ministry vide its notification dated September 19, 1997 on transportation of coal having more than 34 per cent of ash beyond 1000 km by rail as it would not be possible for the state to carry the additional pollution load due to establishment of coal washeries.
The state government had pointed out that since the coal available in Orissa has high ash content, a large number of coal washeries are likely to come up in the state as a result of which the problem of pollution would be worsened further.
Source- Business standard