Debating India

Centre’s new mantra for tackling coal shortage

Sunday 3 July 2005, by RAMAKRISHNAN*T.

The better the thermal power stations perform, the more coal they get

Three dozen plants to benefit Fast track clearance of coal mining projects Captive coal blocks for power plants

CHENNAI: The better the performance of thermal power stations, the more coal they will get. This is the new `mantra’ of the Union Government to tackle the coal shortage faced by thermal power stations.

Till now, the plant load factor (PLF), an index of efficiency, was 68.5 per cent and it was on this basis that coal linkage was made. Now, the benchmark has been fixed at 80 per cent as several plants have achieved a PLF of 75 per cent. During this year, National Thermal Power Corporation plants have been directed to achieve 90 per cent.

"Nearly three dozen coal-based thermal stations will be immediately benefited under this arrangement," Union Power Minister P.M. Sayeed told The Hindu over phone after meeting Union Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayana Raoin New Delhi on Wednesday.

Critical condition

The meeting assumes significance as 22 of the 75 thermal stations in the country have reached "critical and super critical" conditions with regard to their coal stock. Against the prescribed 15 days stock (for pit-head stations) to 30 days (for others), "critical" refers to stock of less than seven days and "super critical" to less than four days.

The power sector consumes almost three-fourths of the country’s coal production. Against a requirement of 16 million tonnes, the current stock is 9 million. To tide over the shortage, about 13.5 million tonnes is being imported by power stations.

NTPC plants covered

The new scheme will cover all plants run by the NTPC. It will also benefit stations at Vijayawada and Kothagudem in Andhra Pradesh, Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, Raichur in Karnataka and Kota in Rajasthan as they are among the "high-performing plants."

On other decisions taken at the meeting, Mr. Sayeed said all production utilities under the control of the Coal Ministry had been directed to step up production.

Immediate action would be taken to commence the execution of all the mining projects cleared by the Ministry.

During the 10th Plan period, 28 projects were to be approved but only four had received the Government’s nod.

"That too, three were sanctioned by the United Progressive Alliance Government in the last one year," he said and added that the remaining proposals would be cleared on a "fast-track" mode.

As part of the medium-term strategy, the process of allotting captive coal blocks for power plants would be expedited and some 30-35 mines had been identified.

The NTPC had already been given one block. Four more blocks would be allotted soon. The fruits of this initiative would be felt in two or three years, Mr. Sayeed said.

See online : The Hindu

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