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Punjab in dark over Panem

New Delhi, Nov. 27: The ongoing agitation led by JVM chief Babulal Marandi against Panem Coal Mines Limited — a joint venture of Punjab State Electricity Board and EMTA Group — has left Punjab literally powerless, as coal supply to the state from its biggest source has stopped completely.

“Power production in the state has been hit and we are facing a shortage of about 150 lakh units of power today. The state is consuming about 1,800 lakh units of power as against the demand of 1,950 lakh units,” a senior power official from Punjab today told The Telegraph.

He added the state board was able to supply only nine hours of power to 80 per cent, as against over 90, of the grids.

“We are constantly in touch with the Jharkhand government and want the issue to be resolved at the earliest,” said the official.

According to sources, Panem extracts about 7 million tonne coal from Pachuara mines in Pakur for Punjab’s power plants. JVM supporters, however, have blocked the approach road to the mines, resulting in complete disruption of transportation from mines to the railway siding in the district since November 16.

Sources said about eight to ten racks of extracted coal had also been left at Pakur railway station.

A senior functionary in the company who did not wish to be named admitted that it was a crisis-like situation and if not solved immediately at government level, it could soon get worse.

Marandi, who has been sitting on a dharna along with Congress leader Stephen Marandi for the last 12 days, reiterated that the agitation would not end until the government fixed a time frame to fulfil their demands for adequate compensation and welfare projects promised to the tribals in Pachuara.

“The company had entered into an agreement with the government in 2006 and also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it would finish all welfare projects by 2007. However, five years have passed since then and they have not done anything except robbing our natural resources. Two days ago, we had sent our list of demands to the company management. We want top government functionaries to come here and fix a deadline within which all the obligations will be fulfilled,” he said.

The JVM’s demands include three primary schools, a CBSE-affiliated high school, a 50-bed hospital and revised compensation for land losers.