The private players, therefore, have asked the Centre to extend the timeline for the auction by “a month or till business normalcy returns.” It has said: “Bidders who have submitted their bid security and processing fees may be issued refund of these amounts so that these funds can be utilised for their day-to-day business operations.”
Senior Coal India
executive said the firm was not conducting the auction and its role was to just provide coal. “Coal India’s role is limited to providing the source-wise quantity as requisitioned for the auction that it has already provided to the Power Finance Corporation, which is conducting the auction,” said the executive.
Sources in the government, however, said the auction was being held on the demand of the sector. “In the earlier round, the players had alleged Coal India is offering less coal under auction. Now, we decided to hold SHAKTI auction and all the other coal linkage auctions regularly. In such unprecedented times, the government is making coal available to all the sectors,” said a senior official.
Private players are calling this move as a means to get rid of surplus coal. As of April 30, there was 50.89 million tonnes of coal stocked up at the power houses in India, enough to last for 31 days. Coal India has a pit-head stock of about 76 million tonnes, said an estimate by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
Coal ministry officials said as coal availability is high, Coal India has shifted its focus away from production. “So there is no case of getting rid. Coal India is preparing ground for post-lockdown scenario,” said an official.
April onwards, Coal India has removed 114.43 million cubic meters of over burden in its open cast mines. This is 10 per cent more over last year same period. Removal of over burden (OB) involves the process of removing the top soil and rock to expose coal seams in open cast mines. Close to 95 per cent of Coal India’s production comes from open cast mines.
“As demand has fallen, Coal India has shifted its focus to the enhancement of the overburden removal. This would help Coal India to accelerate coal production whenever the demand picks up and supply without any delay,” said a senior coal ministry official.