Bhubaneswar: Essential Services Maintenance Act.(ESMA) is considered to be the last resort a essential service provider use to bring normal operation of services. Ironically, it has become a way of life in the coal mines of Odisha based Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd.(MCL) these days. And, what is worse, nobody is serious to enforce the law.
ESMA is in force in MCL coal mines areas since May 15 of this year. Keeping the frequent workers strike, the authority has taken the shelter of the law to maintain peaceful and hassle-free production and dispatch of coal, a critical raw material for power generation and steel, aluminium and cement production.
However, the workers strike is continuing and production and dispatches are being disrupted with immunity for the last three months.
Recently, on July 23 when a mishap occurred in the Bharatpur coal mines four workers were killed and nine others injured. Political parties pitched in support of workers union demanding compensation for the deceased and the injured persons. While BJP demanded Rs 50 lakh for the kin of the workers killed in the accident, the ruling BJD demanded Rs 3 crore for the deceased along with job for the family member and Rs 20 lakh for the injured person.
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 state government has also provided Rs five lakh ex-gratia each to families of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the BJP has withdrawn its agitation following a negotiation with the MCL management. However, the BJD is continuing with its agitatioanal programme.
Local BJD MLA Braja Pradhan is leading the agiatation with Talcher Surakhya Parisad.
A senior executive of MCL wondered that strike and agitation is going on even if the ESMA has been imposed for six months. Strikes and agitation are strictly prohibited during this period. The district administration should take note of the ongoing agitation and strike in violation of ESMA in Talcher coal mine area and initiate appropriate steps. “But, who cares,” the senior executive told India Whispers in desperation.
A MCL spokesperson, however, said that the coal miners have been asked to resume mining operations. The company has also taken up issue with the state authorities and requested for taking necessary steps to ensure conducive environment for resuming mining operations in Talcher coal mines, said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, production and supply from Talcher mines of MCL remained crippled for tenth day on Friday.
The spokesperson said, Talcher coalfields was producing an average of 2.1 lakh tonne coal per day during this rainy season. Stoppage of work is causing daily loss of 2.1 lakh tonne coal production and 2.4 lakh of fuel supply to power plants, besides revenue loss of Rs 13.8 crore to the State and Central exchequers, he said.
The Talcher coalfiled has suffered a production loss of 16.48 lakh tonnes valued to be Rs 170.96 crore due to stoppage of work between July 23rd and August 1. The loss to the State and Central exchequers would to the tune of Rs 110.66 crore.
The agitation has made 13, 447 regular workers and 9591 contactor’s workers job less.
The loss to the power generating companies is 333.27 million units of power per day valued at Rs 21.32 crore.
Badly hit NTPC Ltd.’ Kaniha 3000 MW power plant has shut down three of its six units thus generating as low as 1100 MW now. Similary, the Nalco’s captive power plant is facing coal crisis.
Currently, the spokesperson said, MCL is diverting two rakes of coal from Ib Valley Coalfield to NTPC, Kaniha and efforts are on to divert one rake coal from Ib Valley’s Bansudhara mines to Nalco
The spokesperson cautioned that if the work strike continues at Talcher coal mines, power plants in other parts of the country, particularly in southern states, will soon face coal shortage.