Crisis due to Govt folly,Centre must scrap coal imports move says AIPEF
By VIRENDRA SINGH RAWAT
LUCKNOW, May 13 (The CONNECT) -The All-India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) has demanded the power ministry to withdraw its April 28 directive to the state power generating companies to import 10 percent coal to overcome the present shortage of domestic coal supply.
In a letter to union power minister R K Singh, AIPEF chairman Shailendra Dubey said if the states are forced to import coal than the Centre should bear the additional cost burden on the already distressed power distribution companies (Discoms) as also power consumers.
Further, he warned the coal import process, in the past, had been a subject of corruption and malpractices.
AIPEF claims to represent nearly 1.5 million power sector engineers and employees across different states.
“There are recorded instances of over-invoicing of imported coal and fudging of coal testing/GCV (gross calorific value) determination at the loading port. These cases were taken up by the Department of Revenue intelligence (DRI) under the union finance ministry. The DRI pursued these cases before the Bombay High Court, and later before the Supreme Court,” Dubey recalled.
Alleging that the power crisis was the result of policy failure and lack of coordination between different ministries, the Federation has urged the chief ministers of the states and the union territories to take up the issue urgently with the central government on priority.
“The present coal shortage is the combined result of a number of policy errors of the central government with the shortage made worse due to shortage of railway wagons,” he alleged.
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 said adding had the surplus been ploughed back into the coal mine sector, the present shortage would not have occurred.
“Keeping the post of CMD CIL vacant for a year after the term of the incumbent ended reflects that the Centre was itself responsible for coal shortage, and therefore the additional charges on account of imported coal are payable by it only,” he added.
The engineers have demanded that the additional imports must be made available to the states at the prevailing CIL rates with the difference paid by the Centre.
Moreover, the AIPEF claimed that most of the domestic thermal stations envisaged, designed and constructed over the past decades were on the basis of domestic coal from linked mines.
‘The risk of temperature variations in boilers due to uneven mixing would increase the incidences of boiler tube leakage. The business of coal is a sellers’ market where the terms and conditions are framed to suit the seller/exported, particularly in the GCV determination. There is no solution if the GCV tested at the thermal plant is lower compared to the shipping port value,” he warned.
Citing the railways ministry data, Dubey informed that while the requirement of wagons for coal movement is 441 rakes per day, the availability is only 405 rakes.
“From 2017-18 to 2021-22, the orders placed by the railways for wagons averaged 10,400 wagons per year. However, during the period, there was a pendency of almost 23,592 wagons per year for which the orders were placed but the wagons were not supplied,” he lamented.