Coal India (CIL) has suffered a production loss of about 1.2 million tone translating into a revenue loss of up to Rs 250 crore due to an agitation by contract workers in the mines of its subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields in Orissa.
Violence broke out in Mahanadi Coalfields Limited’s (MCL) Talcher coal mine area about a week back when the contract workers protested against their retrenchment by torching scores of vehicles and reportedly vandalising couple of local MCL offices.
In the ensuing disturbance police arrested local BJD MLA BK Pradhan along with some agitating labourers but later released them.
The Talcher administration along with the state police has managed to contain the unrest to a considerable extent around the mines including Jagannath, South Balanda, Dera, Handidhua, Anant, Lingaraj and Bhubaneswari, but problems continue in certain pockets.
“To my knowledge we have suffered production loss of around 1.2 MT which has translated into a revenue loss of around Rs 250 crore.
Although violence by contract labourers have been contained to a large extent and the situation is slowly returning to normalcy,” Coal India chairman S Narsing Rao told The Indian Express over telephone from Kolkata.
The labour unrest in MCL has compounded worries for the world’s biggest coal miner, which is already contending with the criticism of missing its production target of 41.93 million tonne (MT) for November as it could only produce 39.20 MT.
Its offtake target fell short by 3 MT as it could ensure lifting of 38.76 MT in November. In the first eight months of the current fiscal, CIL’s output was 274.71 MT, as against the April-November target of 289.38 MT. The Talcher collieries have steady productivity and its mines have an estimated 35 billion tonne of deposits.
The labour unrest at Talcher coupled with threat of nationwide strike the trade unions has made the coal ministry’s top brass a worried lot.
Unable to endorse the finance ministry’s move to offload 5 per cent stake in the Maharatna miner, they have instead favoured Coal India offering a special dividend as an alternative, which would enrich the exchequer by about Rs 10,000 crore.
The PSU has been occasionally facing issues on contract labour and ancillary works around the opencast mines like small loading which are entrusted to them reportedly get impacted.
While the company has staff strength of over 3.5 lakh people, its labourers supplied by the contractors are also sizeable, who earn