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Punjab Panem breather

New Delhi, Dec. 11: A fresh stock of coal mined by Panem in Pakur district after the agitation led by Babulal Marandi was called off last week is set to reach Punjab on Thursday, after a three-week-long economic blockade threatened a major crisis in the state.

The dwindling coal stock at thermal plants of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), which is heavily dependent on Panem, as a result of the agitation was a major cause of worry and had severely affected power generation in the state, said officials.

According to them, the supply resumed after Panem — a joint venture of Punjab State Electricity Board and EMTA Group — reached a formal agreement with Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Andolan Samiti last week after 21 days of deadlock over non-fulfilment of commitments made to people displaced by the project in 2006.

“The fact that the supply to the state has resumed is big news for Punjab, as we were staring at a major crisis in a few days due to coal shortage. At our Lehra Mohabbat plant, stocks are available for only about five days while Rupnagar plant has seven days’ stock. We are happy that the protesters and Panem have struck a compromise and the mine has resumed operations,” a senior official in PSPCL told The Telegraph.

The two thermal plants of PSPCL at Lehra Mohabbat and Rupnagar are fed by coal transported from Pakur.

Punjab is currently facing a shortage of 86 lakh units of power every day, on an average, officials said. The mine at Pakur has 562 million tonne of coal reserves, while Panem has permission to use it for 44 years, starting 2007.

For three weeks, neither Panem nor the protesters were willing to budge that led to complete blockade of coal supply to Punjab from the mines, which fulfils 60 per cent of its requirements.

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