CIL, ministries to look into import plans of coal-starved plants

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 31 2008, 06:55am hrs
Coal India, the ministries of power, coal, railways and port authorities will together carry out an exercise to finalise import plans of all power plants in the country. This is because despite Coal India's estimated production of 520 million tonne by 2011-12, import of coal is required. Coal India (CIL), in its maiden attempt, is in the midst of implementing its plan to import 4 million tonne, while NTPC and other power utilities have also been asked to take up necessary measures for the import of coal. According to the data collected by the ministries of power and coal, around 25 million tonne alone will have to be imported to meet up the demand by all plants in 2009-10, and another 40 to 60 million tonne, by 2011-12.

Sources at the ministries of power and coal told FE on Tuesday, "Keeping in view the availability of coal, there is a general agreement that power projects, especially the coastal power projects should have a reasonable amount of imported coal in their fuel mix. CIL has already highlighted the extent of negative coal balance and gap in 2011-12 and the improbability in meeting the coal requirement against letter of awards (LoA) through indigenous sources. There is substantive negative coal balance in 2011-12, as well as 2016-17. In case more LoAs are considered for the power sector, CIL should be allowed to decide the annual contracted quality under the fuel supply agreement, in consultation with the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for each of the projects. This would be based on availability, power generation target, logistics and other relevant factors." CIL suggested that there is a need for expeditious explotation of coal blocks in power sector and in the event of non-explotation, such blocks should be returned to it, which will have to meet the growing coal requirements of all consumers.

The ministry of shipping has informed that at present, a capacity of about 5 million tonne per month exists for coal handling at major ports, which is to grow at 2 million tonne per annum in the coming years. The ministry can further increase port-handling capacity beyond the estimated capacity of 84 million tonne per annum to handle the additional import of coal, if required.

Meanwhile, the power ministry has asked that LoA for all the recommended cases, aggregating about 1,30,000 mw, be given. However, since cases for the 11th Plan would be considered first, the ministry has now asked the CEA to evaluate the preparedness on the basis of parameters linked to whether the developer would bring up the project in the 11th Plan itself.