Coal India, NTPC in war of words over coal supply, utilisation

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on June 20, 2011 Published on June 20, 2011

At a time when the power sector is vocal about the “shortage” of domestic coal, Coal India Ltd (CIL) has accused the power major NTPC of lifting less than half the promised quantities for its Farakka and Kahalgaon power stations in the East, leading to accretion of pit-head stock. Countering the charge, NTPC has accused CIL of supplying a fraction of the requirement, leading to low capacity utilisation at Kahalgaon.

Talking to Business Line, Mr Rakesh Sinha, Chairman of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) — a wholly owned subsidiary of CIL — said the company developed 2.5 million tonnes inventory of coal at its Rajmahal mines in Bihar due to low offtake by NTPC for its Farakka (2,100 MW) and Kahalgaon (2,340 MW) power stations.

“We have sought Coal Ministry's intervention to resolve issues with NTPC,” Mr Sinha said.

According to ECL, NTPC's merry-go-round (MGR) — connecting Rajmahal with Farakka (West Bengal) and Kahalgaon (Bihar) — can carry 13 rakes of coal a day. To keep pace with projected rise in offtake from the power major, ECL has invested in a wharf siding (a raised platform where coal is stacked for loading in wagons using pay-loaders) capable to load an additional 3 rakes a day.

Delay in unloading

“As against projected offtake of 16 rakes (each carrying approximately 3,000 tonnes of coal), NTPC is lifting hardly six-seven rakes a day,” Mr Sinha alleged. According to him, the problem cropped up due to “delay in installing wagon tipplers — for mechanical unloading — at NTPC plant end.”

To add to the problem, there were “several incidents of strikes” by workers involved in unloading of coal at NTPC facilities, the ECL Chairman said. “The delay in unloading of coal, especially at Kahalgaon, has severely impacted the offtake,” he added.

NTPC denial

NTPC, however, described ECL's allegations as “absurd”. In a mailed response, the company said the 2,340 MW Kahalgaon power station is generating merely 1,300 MW (55 per cent of capacity) “due to shortage of coal” as ECL failed to load and dispatch the requisite coal.

“The generation at Kahalgaon is suffering due to lack of coal. For June, an average seven rakes were received by NTPC from Rajmahal through MGR, whereas we received only six rakes during June 13-18 and merely two rakes on June 19,” a company spokesperson said.

According to the company, Kahalgaon requires 43,000 tonnes of coal a day to run at full capacity, while Farakka needs 30,000 tonnes daily to generate 1,600 MW out of a total capacity of 2,100 MW. Farakka is reportedly witnessing low demand for electricity in the region.

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Published on June 20, 2011
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