Higher cost of foreign coal still remains knotty, power engineers federation asks States to raise it with Centre.
By VIRENDRA SINGH RAWAT
LUCKNOW, May 31 (The CONNECT) - In the backdrop of the states dragging feet on the contentious issue of importing coal for their thermal power projects, the Centre has mandated Coal India Limited (CIL) to import the black commodity to supplement domestic supply.
With the energy demand rising amid supply constraints, rising mercury and spike in the global coal prices following Russia-Ukraine war, the union power ministry had advised the states to opt for 10 percent coal imports to ensure uninterrupted energy supply.
While States such as Uttar Pradesh refused to import coal, public sector power engineers opposed it.
The ongoing coal crisis coupled with the fast-dwindling coal inventory with the public and private sector thermal plants has resulted in varying degree of power outages across the country.
The power ministry has now asked the CIL to import coal since multiple coal import tenders by the states would have spelt confusion apart from logistical challenges of arranging for railways rakes to transport the commodity from ports to the states. CIL had last imported coal in 2015.
Coal India will import coal for blending on a government-to-government basis to feed the thermal power plants of state generators and independent power producers (IPPs).
A letter was circulated in this regard by the power ministry to all power utilities, CIL as well as senior central and state energy officials. But the cost of CIL-imported coal to the Gencos is not yet clear.
All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) had vehemently opposed coal imports by the States as it would burden them an extra cost to the rune of Rs 3,000 per tonne which could push up the power tariffs. The federation asked the Centre to bear the extra burden as the crisis has arisen due to policy failure and lack of coordination among different ministries.
“We were firm on our stand that the states should not be made to pay for the coal import burden since all the discoms are already in dire financial conditions,” AIPEF chairman Shailendra Dubey said today.
He even asked all the chief ministers to raise the issue with the central government on priority.
The central decision to funnel away the accumulated revenues of the Coal Indian Limited (CIL) – Rs 35,000 crore in 2016 – had crippled the development of new mines and augmenting the capacity of existing mines, Dubey claimed and said if the surplus had been ploughed back to the coal mine sector, the present shortage would not have occurred.