Less than seven days of coal stock at country's 23 power plants: CEA data

It is ironical that the power plants attached to the mines of South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) are the ones with scarce coal stocks for less than a week at a time when SECL has crossed the 150-million-tonne production mark.

According to the latest data of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as many as 23 thermal power stations in the country have coal stocks for less than seven days.

Of the 23, nearly 10 receive their fuel supply from SECL, the country’s largest coal production company.

These plants include state-owned NTPC’s 2,600-Mw Korba super thermal power station and 2,980-Mw Sipat power plant, both in Chhattisgarh.

They also include the 1,800-Mw Akaltara thermal power plant in Chhattisgarh, the 600-Mw Nawapara plant in Chhattisgarh, and the 600-Mw GMR Warora power plant in Maharashtra.

SECL did not respond to Business Standard’s queries.

NTPC officials said the dispatch of coal from SECL mines had been erratic for some months. “Better evacuation will resolve it considerably,” said an executive.

At all these power stations the fuel supply from Coal India Ltd (CIL) is in the range of 75-95 per cent of the annual contracted quantity (ACQ) or the minimum quantity of coal that CIL must deliver to the power plants.

According to an official, the reasons for the shortage of coal is the lack of rail connectivity. The rail link, especially the 311-km East and East West Rail Corridor, is yet to be completed.

Supplying coal by road is a costlier option and the higher cost is recovered from the consumer in the form of higher tariffs.

SECL said its production was improving every year. During April-December 2018, the company produced 110 million tonnes, which is 8.9 per cent higher than in the same period of the previous year, SECL said in its submission to the Ministry of Coal.

This is the second instance in the past six months that production and supply from SECL have suffered. Last year, the SECL-owned Korba coalfields, the country’s largest cluster of coal mines, were reportedly in the middle of a tussle over surplus production with its contractor. The three mines — Gevra, Kusmunda and Dipka, which form the Korba cluster — suffered due to it.

In December 2018, SECL’s production fell by 13 per cent year on year.

SECL has stopped offering coal on special forward e-auction held for power units, said some executives.

In the review meeting held by Ministries of Coal and Power earlier this year, SECL committed to increase production by 100,000 tonne per day.

 
“SECL assured that three days’ stock would be built at Korba and Sipat at the earliest. It will also ensure three rakes per day instead of 1.5 rakes currently,” said the minutes of the meeting, reviewed by Business Standard. SECL will ensure 460,000 tonnes of dispatch every day.

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