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Coal loading from Panem mines starts
After 21 days of blockade on transportation of coal from Panem Coal mines in Jharkhand, an agreement was reached on Friday night with agitating locals.

PUNJAB STATE power Corporation Ltd. (PSPCL) authorities heaved a sigh of relief when coal loading from the Panem coal mines in Jharkhand for thermal plants of Punjab started on Saturday.

According to official sources, Panem authorities reached an agreement with Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Samiti on Friday night after 21 days of agitation. Panem has committed that they will fulfill the demands of displaced persons to their satisfaction. Earlier neither Panem nor the protesters were willing to budge from their stand, throwing work at the mine, which meets 60 per cent of Punjab's daily coal requirements, into uncertainty.

The dwindling coal stock at thermal plants of Punjab was a cause of worry as it would have affected power generation from thermal plants. At present Lehra Mohabatt thermal has 10 days coal stock and Ropar thermal plant has 11 days coal stock.

It may be mentioned that an ongoing agitation at one of Jharkhand's largest mines run by Panem Coal Mines Limited had put a full-stop on all work at the site for the last 21 days. Uncertainty hanged over the project, with locals vowing not to let a single coal-laden truck leave the mines until the displaced families are rehabilitated.

Panem is a joint venture company between the Punjab State Electricity Board and a Kolkata-based private company. Its mine in the state's remote Pakur district has about 562 million tons of coal reserves. The company has been allowed to do open-mining for 44 years.

Locals alleged that Panem went back on an agreement it signed in 2006 that it will take time-bound measures to improve the lives of Santhal tribals, who were displaced by the project. It was alleged that people neither got adequate compensation nor any  proper infrastructure created at the site where they were rehabilitated. Even in the under-construction 50-bed hospital which was to start functioning from 2007 the building is not yet ready.

On generation front one unit of Lehra Mohabatt is under annual maintenance. The 250 MW unit no. 3 is under shut down for last three days after a  technical fault .The power shortage in state is 86 lac units and the power supply in state was  around 938 lac units. The average thermal generation on Friday was 1737 MW.

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