Moving coal to NTPC plant: Jindal ITF may get contract for creating infrastructure

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on June 13, 2011 Published on June 13, 2011

The project is a maiden attempt on the part of any power utility in India to reduce dependence on the overstretched rail network.

Jindal ITF may bag the contract for creating and operating the infrastructure to transport 3-8 million tonnes of imported coal through the Hoogly to NTPC power plants in Farakka in West Bengal.

Part of the cargo will be re-transported through NTPC's merry-go-round rail network to its Kahalgaon power station in Bihar.

According to sources, Jindal ITF — a fully owned subsidiary of listed Jindal Saw — has emerged as the lowest bidder for the project. IWAI — the sole authority to ensure navigability and navigation through the inland waterways — had invited bids on NTPC's behalf. The project is a maiden attempt on the part of any power utility in India to reduce dependence on the overstretched rail network.

Apart from Jindal, other contenders for the logistics project were Kolkata-based TM International Logistics, Chennai-based Good Earth and a consortium led by Sri Avantika.

While comments were not available from Jindal ITF, sources suggest that the company has promised to create and operate the facilities for seven years at a consolidated charge of “close to” Rs 1,000 on every tonne of coal to be transported.

The proposal is now awaiting clearance of NTPC authorities.

According to the tender, the company needs to invest in trans-loading facilities at Sandheads in the high seas in Bay of Bengal for transfer of coal from large bulk carriers to barges, build a jetty at Farakka and conveyor belts for transfer of the coal from the jetty to the NTPC plant.

When contacted, an official in the Managing Director's office of Jindal ITF said that the senior executives of the company were not available to respond to media queries. Comments were also not available from NTPC.

According to sources in a company, which had expressed initial interest in the project but did not submit the bid, the project may require Rs 400-600 crore investment including Rs 200 crore in creating the conveyor belt, approximately 50 odd self-propelled barges, and two trans-loaders for deployment at Sandheads.

With concern over the navigability of the river, sources expect that the barges may run only at half their capacity of 3,000 tonnes, thereby pushing up the cost of operation. Moreover, the operator needs to make money to retrieve the investments in conveyor belt system, which will be a property of NTPC at the end of the seven-year contract period.

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Published on June 13, 2011
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