The much-awaited coal corridor proposal of the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) to free a vast rural population from the hazards of dust pollution is not moving on the expected lines. The coal transportation through these corridors will be easy and is expected to reduce dust pollution.
Sources said after intense public pressure it was decided that MCL would lay 33-km four-lane stretch exclusively for transportation of coal from its mines.
The project envisages a corridor between Basundhara to Bhedabahal where it would connect with the State Highway 10. The company board had approved Rs 385 crore for this project.
MCL has two high-yielding functional coalmines – Basundhara and Kulda – in Hemgir block of Sundargarh district, about 145 km from Rourkela.
The proposal for the corridor came after accidents and dust pollution made life miserable for hundreds of villagers. About 5,000 heavy coal-laden vehicles that ply through Ujjalpur, Tangarpali, Chhatenpali, Duduka, Balinga, Bandhapali and Mahulpali during peak hours kick off clouds of dust leading to health problems and polluting water sources in the villages.
The villagers, who had pinned hopes on the corridor would have to wait for a long time. The proposal has not moved beyond the drawing board stage as neither the Sundargarh district administration nor MCL authorities are in a position to predict its time of completion.
Sources said that the Public Works Department (PWD), Sundargarh, has been entrusted with execution of the project and MCL would bear the entire cost. Sambalpur-based MCL spokesperson Dikken Mehera claimed that MCL had sanctioned Rs 385 crore for the project and it’s up to the district administration to do the rest.
Sundargarh Collector Rupa Roshan Sahu said the PWD had submitted estimates to MCL for land acquisition and project costs but a communication from MCL is awaited.
Administrative sources said after final approval from MCL, the land acquisition task would be taken up. It would be a couple of years before the harassed villagers could hope to get some relief.
In view of the projected dispatch of coal by MCL, the company had planned to construct four coal corridors in its coal producing areas comprising Talcher, Ib valley and Basundhara mines. early last year.