NMDC mines paralysed after Naxal cut power

June 7, 2008

June 7th (Business Standard) – Production in Dantewada mining facilities of India’s largest iron ore producer and exporter, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), was paralysed after Naxalites blew up power towers in the area, plunging the entire Bastar region into darkness. The incident occurred on Thursday.

Of the three fully-mechanised mines of NMDC, two are in Bailadila pockets of Dantewada district while one is in Donimalai in Karnataka. The Bailadila mines produce 20.5 million tonnes iron ore per year. The company’s total production is 27.07 million tonnes.

“The entire operation of NMDC has come to a halt as there is no power supply in the area,” said a senior company executive.

The incident hit supply of power to Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar and Narayanpur districts, besides plunging more than 1,500 villages into darkness. The worst sufferers were the patients in different hospitals, where the administration was trying to maintain electricity supply through generators. Water supply in region also remained shut.

“The NMDC management is trying to restore power by bringing generators from Hyderabad,” the executive said. The loss would be known only when production resumes, he added.

This is the second time in the past one year when production in NMDC’s mines has been hit following disruption of power supply by Naxalites. Last year’s attack had kept the region in the dark for 11 days and caused a loss of around Rs 100 crore to NMDC.

However, the work in Essar’s iron ore benefication plant near Kirandul in Dantewada district was not affected. The company, which supplies high-quality iron ore from here to its pellet plant in Visakhapatnam, has installed generator sets.The railways, which ferry three dozens rakes of iron ore to Visakhapatnam from here, would also incur a loss.

Meanwhile, work to restore the towers has started on a war-footing. State power board officials said restoring the supply would take at least 10 days. The state government is also in talks with the Orissa government to get power for emergency services. A number of generator sets have been sent to Bastar to restore power for emergency services, including hospitals, say sources.

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