West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday said that her government is drawing up an ambitious Rs 12000 crore plan to develop the Deocha Pachami coal block in Birbhum, which the Centre alloted to it this year, to bring in rapid socio-economic development in the area.
The plan to develop the world's second-largest coal block would create one lakh jobs and usher in rapid economic development in the area, Banerjee said addressing a public meeting here in East Burdwan district. "Necessary administrative infrastructure has already been set up to start the project," Banerjee said adding some more clearances from the Centre was needed to expedite the project.
In June this year, the coal ministry had offered a full right of the coal block to West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL), a state-owned energy generation company, for end use. The Centre had first intended to allot the coal block jointly to Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal along with PSU Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. However, apart from West Bengal, no state showed interest citing cost and complexities associated with coal extraction.
The exploration process has already been planned which will spell out the actual reserves against potential reserve estimate of 2.1 billion tonnes. The coal block is located in Birbhum district and spread over 9 sq km. Rana Som, chairman of Bengal Birbhum Coalfields, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for Deocha Pachami block, had said that the company will meet coal ministry officials to finalise performance guarantee amount that is required to be paid before work can begin.
Performance guarantee will be fixed in phases like first for exploration and then for output, once exploration begins. The block can be used as per plan submitted by WBPDCL totalling 5,240 MW from projects at Sagardighi, Santaldih, Bakreshwar and a project of pithead plant Durgapur Power Ltd of 1,600 MW.
As the coal block reserve is much higher than WBPDCL's captive use, at a later stage the state intends to seek Centre's approval for commercial sale of coal once its own requirements are fulfilled, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra had said. Elaborating various projects undertaken by her government in East Burdwan district, the topper in agriculture production and 100-day work, Banerjee said a freight corridor from Dankuni to Burdwan would further enhance the importance of this district.
Strongly criticising the erstwhile Left Front government, Banerjee said its 34-year rule had deprived the people in the state. "Still they (LF) are instigating people to be against all development works."
Stating that development of Lower Damodar Basin project would cause immense benefit to the farmers in the district, whose income has increased three times compared to the figure during the previous government. She also cautioned both police and general administration against social evils like the sale of spurious liquor and illegal sand mining.
(With inputs from agencies.)