MINING TOGETHER: Ram Vilas Paswan (left), Union Minister of Chemicals, Fertilizer and Steel, and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, West Bengal Chief Minister, exchange documents after signing an MoU between NMDC and WBMDTC in Kolkata on Tuesday.
KOLKATA,19th November: Navratna public sector National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) will initially invest Rs. 1,000 crore to develop a coal mining project in Birbhum district in West Bengal, Chairman and Managing Director Rana Som said.
Mr. Som was here on the occasion of signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation (WBMDTC) for starting coal mining activities and supplying iron ore and bauxite.
He said the Deocha-Pachami coal block in West Bengal was one of the largest coal blocks in India and NMDC proposed to make its second foray in coal mining with this virgin block. The initial investment would go mainly towards land acquisition and purchase of heavy earth moving machinery. NMDC already had two coal blocks in Madhya Pradesh. The Birbhum block was yet to be allotted. He indicated that this mine would need technology and NMDC might rope in a foreign partner if it so wanted. Spread over a 9.7-sq. kilometre, the mine had a 2-billion tonne reserve of thermal coal and was deep mine. The West Bengal Power Development Corporation would have a 10-per cent stake in this venture, while the WBMDTC would hold 40 per cent of the equity with NMDC holding 50 per cent and having the right to divest 15 per cent to bring in another partner.
West Bengal Power Minister Mrinal Banerjee said that with a proposed capacity of 10,000 MW, the state utilities would need one lakh tonnes of coal a day soon. The project would help the power sector.
The MoU paves the way for the geological exploration of the deposit to establish the project’s commercial viability, after which the joint venture would be incorporated to carry forward the project. Union Minister for Chemicals, Fertilisers and Steel Ram Vilas Paswan, who was present while the MoU was signed, said the project will have an initial investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Other dignitaries present included Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Minister for Commerce and Industries Nirupam Sen.
The NDMC, India’s single largest iron ore producer, has also signed another agreement with the state government by which it will make a certain amount of iron ore available to the steel manufacturing sector of the state.
During the function, the chief minister thanked Paswan for his role in getting a number of the state’s projects cleared. “He has helped in the revival of IISCO factory at Burnpur with Central funding of Rs 13,000 crore. He is also getting Rs 5,500 crore for the Durgapur Steel factory and trying to clear the PCPIR project as early as possible. We are all thankful to him,” Bhattacharjee said.
According to Paswan, PCPIR project will receive the Central nod by this year. “The proposal will be placed in the high-powered committee comprising secretaries of different Union ministries. Then it will directly come to the Cabinet for clearance,” he added.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said industrial progress was difficult without mineral supplies and a national policy was needed for dispersing resources evenly throughout the country.