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Centre delaying clearances for coal mining, says Sobhandeb; state harps on need for power conservation

Kolkata: State Power minister Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay on Tuesday accused the Centre of not issuing environmental and forest clearances to commence coal mining activities at allotted mines in the state.

Meanwhile, in order to stop wastage of electricity during the monsoon season, the state government requested the people of Bengal to switch off power supply for at least half-an-hour per week.

The state government has also taken up a programme named 'save energy, save earth and environment'.

The Power minister alleged that the Centre was delaying the clearances. He also urged the people to accept the decision to shut down power in residences as well as government offices for 30 minutes per week.

"We want people to realise the need for stopping power wastage along with conserving energy. We do not want to enforce the decision of shutting down power. The district-wise plan for power shutdown will be decided soon," Chattopadhyay said during a press conference at Nabanna on Tuesday.

"We are not able to commence operations in some allotted coal mines because the Centre is delaying forest and environmental clearances," Chattopadhyay told the reporters.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting at Nabanna with various departments including Power, Panchayat and Water Resources, stressing on the need for conservation of energy and prevention of power wastage.

Banerjee also urged the Power department to ensure uninterrupted power generation, distribution and transmission in the ongoing summer season.

The Power minister said that coal cess has been increased and freight cost is rising as well. As a result, the cost of power generation is also going up, affecting industries and households alike. Barjora North coal

block has started operation, while Panchwara North block would start work very soon, the minister maintained.

"If the Centre issues all the clearances it would help us produce more coal for captive purposes and reduce the cost of power generation. The Chief Minister has directed us to conserve energy and thereby save the environment," Chattopadhyay told the reporters at Nabanna.

The state government will also start a campaign in order to generate awareness on power conservation. The state Transport, Irrigation and Water Resources minister Suvendu Adhikari, who was also present at the meeting, said that the Chief Minister has stressed on ensuring that the irrigation sector is not affected due to power shortage.

He also said that Banerjee has formed a committee headed by Chief Secretary Malay De with officials of Panchayat, Water Resources and Fisheries departments, to take steps in response to a survey which says that water level in 31 places might get depleted.

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