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A goat can cost you: Coal India stops work as locals spar over animal death

FILE PHOTO: Workers walk on a heap of coal at a stockyard of an underground coal mine in the Mahanadi coal fields at Dera, near Talcher town in the eastern Indian state of Orissa March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

BHUBANESWAR (Reuters) - Protests by locals in eastern India over a trespassing goat killed in an accident halted operations and cost Coal India unit Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd (MCL) 26.8 million rupees ($377,000), a spokesman said on Tuesday.

“It’s surprising, but true. A goat can also cost you,” MCL spokesman Dikken Mehra’s statement read.

Coal transportation at Talcher coalfields, one of India’s biggest, came to a halt after locals from a nearby village protested against the killing of a goat in an accident in a prohibited mining zone.

Operations were halted for three-and-a-half-hours, and resumed only after police intervened, Mehra said. Coal India has lodged a complaint at the local police station against the protesters.

“People from the peripheral localities deliberately trespassing into the coal mine and overburden areas to pick coal, firewood and even graze their livestock remains a cause of concern,” Mehra said.

($1 = 71.1520 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Writing by Sudarshan Varadhan