Within a couple of weeks of the government making a concerted effort to augment the supply of coal across the country, it has been hit by the ‘rail roko andolan’ by agitating farmers on Monday. Sources in Indian Railways tell that more than 350 rakes have been deployed by the national carrier for the transportation of coal. As per the sources in the government, at least 46 railway rakes that go to carry coal to power plants were blocked by farmers on Monday.
“Punjab and Rajasthan remained the most affected states because of the rail roko movement. At a time when the entire government machinery is working in close association to meet the excess coal demand of the nation, some middlemen in the name of innocent farmers squatted on railway tracks and hindered the movement of coal rakes that causing to aberration in the coal supply to the power plants,” a senior government official said.
“46 railway rakes carry about 2 lakh tonnes of coal, which can produce 322 million units of power that equals to two days electricity needs of the State like Punjab. This is a huge loss to the farmers especially at a time when they need more electricity for irrigation purposes,” the official added.
This comes in at a time when officials toiling to maintain unhindered supply through Coal India Ltd which accounts for over 80 per cent of the national coal output despite States owing around Rs 19,000 crore dues to the national miner.
“Ironically, on the one hand, both the States Punjab and Rajasthan are repeatedly stating that there is a huge shortage of coal and on the other hand, they are supporting the miscreants who are stopping the supply of coal to these States. Only innocent farmers suffer because of the double standards of these States. Thanks to the alternative mode of coal transportation made by the central government, the problem somehow got managed,” said another government official.
Delay in monsoon and then an extended rainfall were some of the factors which impacted the coal supply that lead to the shortage in the country, officials said.