In a bid to tide over coal shortage, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) will import a total of 20 lakh tonnes of steam coal between November 2018 and May 2019.

Tamil Nadu receives coal mostly from Ib Valley in Odisha, Mahanadi in Chattisgarh, and Raniganj in West Bengal. However, supply from these coal mines has drastically reduced in the last one month. Bad weather was a reason for the shortfall in supplies from Ib Valley.

Coal India has stepped up supplies in the last few days, but the State government is not taking any chance and has opted to import steam coal to address the shortfall and meet the generation target for the thermal stations of Tangedco.

A Tangedco tender stated that delivery of the imported coal will be between November 2018 and May 2019 at Kamarajar port at Ennore (near Chennai). A total of 26 shipments will supply 20 lakh tonnes that will come in Panamax vessels. Tangedo has the right to change the port of call to either Kamarajar port or VOC port.


Tamil Nadu has been reeling under severe coal shortage in the last 20 days that warranted Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswamy on September 14 to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter and increase coal supplies to thermal plants in the State to avoid outages.

Palaniswamy said Tangedco’s power plants, on an average, require 72,000 tonnes of coal daily to maintain continuous generation. This translates into at least 20 rakes on a daily basis. However, on an average, Tangedco was receiving only seven rakes daily due to reduced supplies from the coal companies.

Win-Win situation

The decision to import coal will be a major boost for both Kamarajar port and the Southern Railway. There was a major decline in coal handling at the port in the last two years as the share of renewable energy in Tamil Nadu’s power generation mix increased substantially, thereby reducing coal demand for thermal power plants. The port’s peak handling was 32.21 mt (million tonne) in 2015-16. However, the traffic dropped to 30.02 mt in 2016-17 due to a significant decline in coal handling. In 2017-18, the port handled 30.45 mt.

“We are geared to handle the additional coal for TNEB, which has two dedicated berths,” said P Raveendran, Chairman of Chennai Port Trust holding additional charges as CMD of Kamarajar Port.

The port had already handled 9 per cent more coal between April and August 2018 at 101 lakh tonnes against 93 lakh tonnes in the same period last year, he told BusinessLine .

The drop in coal handling by the port, in turn, led to a decline in coal movement by the Southern Railway. It moved 15.83 mt in 2017-18, against 17.61 mt in 2016-17 and 18.78 mt in 2015-17.