Almost 10 months back, the corridors of coal, power and Prime Minister’s Office woke up to the alarm of coal-pool pricing. It took a few weeks for many policy makers, company officials and media to understand what exactly this term means and if at all implemented, what would be the consequences. Some are probably still wondering!
On the bright evening of April 22, after standing for nearly three hours outside 7 RCR (the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi that generally hosts the Union Cabinet meetings), the media is informed that the proposal of coal-pooling mechanism is ‘out of the window’.
'Nothing called price pooling'
Does this mean all the resources, funded by tax payers money, that were put in to come out with a pooling mechanism all these months are down the drain?
“There is nothing called price pooling. Price pooling is out of the window,” said the young Parliamentarian in a well-ironed white shirt.
Needless to say, all these months, many brain storming sessions took place at Government offices. Coal India Chairman, who is based in Kolkata, flew in and out of Delhi to discuss modalities almost every week. The miners’ board meetings faced Independent Directors ire who said pooling may cost several crores to the company. The Power Ministry and CEA armed themselves to answer Coal Ministry's every query related to fuel demand and targets of power plants.
All to no avail
At the end, what do we get? Consumers would continue to pay higher electricity rates. The pooling was never to facilitate electricity generation at cheaper rates. Neither is the cost plus mechanism, which has now been put in place.
How many times and for how long does the country have to bear with the Government's half-baked measures? The proposal is made without proper due-diligence and one fine day it is put to rest.
In all these, there is certainly a winner. And it is Coal India. The company always maintained that it will fulfil supply gaps by imports through cost plus pricing.