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Paper mill faces coal scarcity

Hailakandi, July 6: Scarcity of coal will halt production at Cachar Paper Mill of Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) at Panchgram in Hailakandi district in the next two weeks.

A HPC official said the mill has coal stocks for nearly the next 15 days and the problem will arise after that.

The mill needs 600 metric tonnes of coal everyday to run the high temperature steam boiler.

Intuc’s Paper Project Workers’ Union has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save one of Asia’s largest paper projects at Panchgram.

The union has also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the deputy commissioner of Hailakandi, mentioning the problems of the mill, particularly the crisis in the supply of coal.

The president of the union, Manabendra Chakraborty, said it would not tolerate the closure of the mill.

He said the problem of scarcity of bamboo has now been settled.

“In order to continue production, at least 600MT coal is required everyday to run the high temperature steam boiler,” he said.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the digging and supply of coal in Meghalaya on April 17.

The mill already has 90,000MT bamboo (raw material) in its stocks from Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Dima Hasao district and different places of Barak valley.

“These will virtually be useless if the supply of coal is stopped,” the official said.

The general secretary of the union, Najmul Islam, said because of the absence of broad-gauge train connectivity in Barak valley, the mill authorities cannot bring coal from Bihar and Bengal.

Similarly, the transportation of coal is not possible through Jowai Road (National Highway 6) as there is a ban on all coal-related activities, including transportation within Meghalaya.

He expressed serious concern and said if the mill is closed because of the scarcity of coal, the government will lose revenue.

Nearly 1 lakh people are directly and indirectly connected with the mill and dependent upon it for their livelihood.

An HPC official said they were helpless as all routes for supply of coal are closed and the matter has been informed to the higher authorities for immediate action.