Badal Sanyal

Kolkata, March 2

GENERATION from eight out of the 75 thermal power stations in the country may suffer a major setback any time now due to non-availability of coal.

Although the reasons of "super critical" coal stock position at their ends are different, the fact remains that these eight large generating stations are running with just four days' stock and are not sure whether they will get enhanced quantity of supplies from the linked-mines to meet current coal requirement as well as to build up stocks for the monsoon season.

Of the eight thermal power stations, four belong to National Thermal Power Corporation, located at Talcher, Farakka, Kahalgaon and Simadri, with a combined generating capacity of about 4,650 MW. The other four are: DPL at Durgapur in West Bengal; Barauni plant in Bihar; Mejia plant of DVC; and the Ahmedabad Electricity Company in Gujarat.

A senior level executive of Coal India Ltd (CIL) said that coal dispatches to NTPC-owned power stations were affected in the last couple of months owing to loss of production at the mines linked with these projects.

The executive explained that coal production suffered due to non-availability of explosives from domestic producers/suppliers at an earlier agreed price. As a result, the linked mines of CIL's subsidiaries had to prune supplies to the NTPC plants, resulting in a super critical stock position at their ends. Coal supplies to DVC's Mejia too were affected because of the same reason.

In the case of DPL and Barauni, adequate supplies were not made on account of non-payment of dues. They were informed that coal will not be supplied unless they pay in advance and also clear their "undisputed" dues.

Ahmedabad Electricity Company should not have faced the shortage situation when there is no dearth of coal at its linked mines in Korba coalfields of Southern Coalfields Ltd (SECL). The official said coal could not be dispatched because of non-availability of wagons.

He said that altogether 26 thermal power stations in the country were running at present with seven days' coal stock, which was very low vis-à-vis the stock-building parameters suggested by the Central Electricity Authority. He cautioned that unless these plants improve their offtake during the current dry season, they might face rough weather during the monsoon season.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 3, 2005)
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