Ranchi, May 4: The Jharkhand government today signed an ambitious agreement with the Union ministries of coal and railways for a network that will quicken the process of ferrying the state's coal to power plants across the country.
The tripartite agreement to set up a special purpose vehicle for executing the railway network, meant to evacuate coal fast from Central Coalfields (CCL) command areas in the state, is for 12 projects, including new lines and sidings.
This afternoon, amid a galaxy of Union ministers - Piyush Goyal (minister of state for power, coal and renewable energy), Jayant Sinha and Sudarshan Bhagat (ministers of state for finance and rural development, both Jharkhand MPs) - chief minister Raghubar Das, Union coal secretary Anil Swarup and state chief secretary Rajiv Gauba, the MoU was inked by representatives of railway, coal and state at a city hotel.
The projects comprise new broad gauge rail lines at Tori-Shivpur and Shivpur-Kathautia; sidings at Magadh, Amrapali, Sanghmitra, Pachra, North Urimari, Konar, Pipradih, Kuju and Kathara colliery areas; and a diversion between Phusro and Jarangdih.
Hoping the projects would be complete "in a year or so", an upbeat Goyal said: "This MoU is of great significance. The railway lines will transport coal, other products and passengers, too. Once complete, Jharkhand can evacuate 200 metric tonne of coal every year."
A Coal India source said according to the pact, 64 per cent costs would be borne by the coal ministry, 26 per cent by the railways and 10 per cent by the state. An equity of Rs 1,000 crore would be initially formed for the purpose.
Central Coalfields CMD Gopal Singh outlined the importance of the projects from the view of easier and cheaper transport of coal to feed the nations' power plants.
"We will end up saving around Rs 12,000 crore a year if new railway lines and siding projects are completed. Also, coal transported on road via trucks to nearest railway sidings causes much pollution (in the form of coal dust) in those areas. Once the network comes up, much of the pollution will be reduced," Singh said.
An enthusiastic Jayant, in whose constituency, Hazaribagh, many coal mining projects operate, said: "It is not only a win-win situation for the state but it is a win, win, win, win scene for all."
Later, on the sidelines of the main event, chief minister Das told The Telegraph that May so far had been a great month for Jharkhand.
"The state is starting many projects and signing MoUs. But, I must remind railways to complete our long-pending railway overbridge projects. Jharkhand is the power hub of this country. Without Jharkhand's contribution, India cannot become a superpower. And so, Jharkhand needs to be made a stronger state," said Das.<>He added that after coal block auctions and allotments, Jharkhand would get over Rs 1,09,000 lakh crores in the next 30 years but only after coal mining work starts.