Coal strike: Over 75% output hit; talks resume

New Delhi: Over 75 % of India’s daily coal output was hit as the five-day strike by workers of state-run miners entered the second day on Wednesday, raising fears of disruption in power supplies.

While talks between the striking workers union and the government resumed on Wednesday with Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal deciding to intervene, there were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand.

Besides Goyal, those involved in the discussions included Coal India Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya and senior Coal Ministry officials.

As many as 290 out of 438 coal mines of state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) had to be shut because of the strike, which is being termed as the largest industrial action in four decades, while many other mines across the country were also hit.

There are concerns the strike may severely hit fuel supply to over 100 thermal power plants across the country, as the emergency coal arrangements may not last long.

 Many state governments, including that of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, expressed apprehension about possible electricity crisis if the strike continues for a longer period. They are also monitoring the situation.

Unions’ alleged CIL management was trying to bring in temporary workers to operate the 290 shut mines.

As talks with Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed to yield any positive outcome late on Tuesday night, union leaders said they wanted political leadership to come to the negotiating table.

The strike call was given by all five major trade unions, including BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), against “disinvestment in Coal India and denationalisation of coal mining”.

“The strike has turned aggressive today. More than 75 % of the production has been affected. Most of our mines are badly hit,” a top Coal India official said.

The unions said about five lakh coal workers are on strike and the protest will intensify going forward as the government has deployed police forces, resulting in clashes.

Workers unions also claimed all of the 1.5 million tonnes a day coal output of the world’s largest miner had been hit by the strike, but Coal India said over 75 % output has been impacted.

(With inputs from PTI)

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