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Employees seek end to coal crisis at NALCO plant


Bhubaneswar: Employees of state-run National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) – India’s third largest aluminium producer – urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday to intervene in the crisis the company is facing due to coal shortage.

N.K. Samal, working president of the company’s employees union in the smelter unit at Angul, around 160 km from here, said NALCO had been losing around Rs.1 crore a day for the past one week for want of coal.

The smelter plant had to shut down 60 of its 931 pots a week ago as coal stocks sank to critical levels and generation at the captive power plant that feed the smelter came down. They remain shut.

“This may lead to further loss to the national exchequer in days to come if the problem persists and the government doesn’t come up with timely intervention,” he said in an appeal to the prime minister.

“The company may also be forced to shut down its remaining pots, resulting in loss to around one lakh people, who directly or indirectly depend on the plant for livelihood,” Samal said.

The operation has been severely affected due to short supply of coal from the linkage provided to the company by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), he said.

“While NALCO smelter requires around 17,000 tonnes of coal daily, it has been receiving only 8,000 tonnes, due to heavy rains since last week,” he said in a statement.

“The supply of coal has been further hit by the recent decision of Railways to impose restriction on rail movements,” he said. “Hence, what we are seeking is a permanent solution, not stop-gap arrangements.”

A senior company official told IANS last week that the shortage had forced the company to cut its daily production by about 78 tonnes.