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State-run Coal IndiaBSE -1.33 % has been forced to stop mining at several blocks including six big mines where millions of tonnes of coal can be quickly excavated but the output has already reached the limits allowed by the environment ministry.
Coal India has been forced to stop operations at these mines as the environment ministry has not taken a decision on their expansion for about a year.
A top coal ministry official said the mining restrictions, barring even excavation of coal that got exposed during removal of surface soil, were expected to be lifted before the last quarter that is considered crucial for meeting Coal India's production targets.
He said lack of environment clearances for expansion led to substantial revenue loss to the company and could have considerably narrowed the gap between its coal production target and actual output for the current financial year.
Besides, low demand from power consumers has forced the company to cut down on production. The company targets to produce 482 million tonnes during 2013-14. "Coal India will miss its production target by about 15-20 million tonnes due to lack of environmental clearances. The targets would also not be met as power generating companies of many states have stopped accepting supplies from Coal India," the official said.
Coal India's subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL) has stopped production from Lakhanpur mine in Jharsuguda district of Odisha due to pending environment clearance for coal extraction leading to a loss of about Rs 320 crore.
The mine can produce 18.75 million tonnes per annum, but it has clearance to extract only 15 million tonnes, a limit that has already been achieved.
Over 4 million tonnes of coal got exposed during removal of surface soil but cannot be excavated and transported to consumers like NTPC, Damodar Valley Corporation, Tata Power and electricity generating companies of West Bengal and Maharashtra due to pending permits for expansion of the project.
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