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Bengal bets on Deocha Pachami, may seek commercial mining right
Kolkata, Oct 31 (PTI) The West Bengal government is hoping to make the most of Deocha Pachami coal block that the Centre alloted to it in June this year, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra said Wednesday.
With estimated reserves of 2.1 billion tonnes, the coal block is touted to be the world's second-largest and the state government may seek commercial mining right for it at a later stage, Mitra said.
"We are optimistic on world's second-largest coal block Deocha Pachami. All mining activities are associated with some or other difficulties but with advanced technologies these issues can be resolved," West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said Wednesday.
Mitra was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of 'Global Mining Summit 2018' organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
In June this year, the ministry of coal had offered full right of the block to West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd, 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 in it citing cost and complexities associated with extraction.
Mitra said the exploration process has 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.
The minister said that the block has a potential to attract direct and indirect investment of Rs 60,000 crore over the next few years.
Rana Som, chairman of Bengal Birbhum Coalfields, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for Deocha Pachami block, said 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, Mitra said.
Mitra also said that the revenue from mineral in 2017-18 was Rs 2,264 crore of which Rs 574 crore was from minor minerals. PTI BSM JM JM
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