The canal work on river Paravanar near Neyveli in Tamil Nadu is being undertaken to save the nearby villages and its mines from floods, state-owned NLC India Ltd (NLCIL) said on Monday.
The company's statement came amid farmers protesting against the construction of the canal, claiming the company is looking to begin mining operations on the land acquired from them.
In the statement, NLC said it took up the construction work for a permanent canal for the Paravanaru River in Bhuvanagiri taluk from Wednesday to safeguard nearby villages and its mines from flooding during monsoon.
Paravanaru is the main river in NLCIL's mine-2 area. During the peak monsoon, it causes inundation of surrounding fields and nearby villages.
"In order to avoid temporary diversions (of water), a permanent diversion was conceptualised for a length of 12 km. The land was also acquired in stages during the period between 2006 and 2013, paying requisite compensation. Of this permanent diversion, a stretch of 10.5 km river formation had been completed, leaving a small stretch of 1.5 km near Melvalayamadevi," the company said.
The present mine-2 cut face is just 60 metres from the Paravanar temporary canal and faces the risk of floods, which may affect the lives of the workers and machinery at the mines.
Stating that in the event of incessant rain, it may also cause severe flooding of the dwelling and agricultural lands, NLC said the permanent canal under construction would protect the company's operations and properties of the farmers after completion.
"Facilitating the diversion of the river at the earliest is of prime importance taking the safety of all the nearby areas and mines," it said, adding NLC has already paid all compensations to farmers.
NLC, under the Ministry of Coal, operates 3 opencast lignite mines with a total installed capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at Neyveli, another opencast lignite mine at Barsingsar in Rajasthan with an installed capacity of 2.10 MTPA and an open cast coal mine at Talabira in Odisha with an installed capacity of 20 MTPA.
The company also operates 4 lignite based pit-head thermal Power Stations with an aggregate capacity of 3,390 Mega Watt (MW) at Neyveli and one 250 MW Lignite based Thermal Power Station (BTPS) at Barsingsar, Rajasthan.