With no coal arrangement to run the upcoming 1,400MW (megawatt) thermal plant in Rajpura, Larsen and Toubro, which is undertaking construction of the plant, has demanded coal from the block allotted to Punjab in Jharkhand's Pachwara district.
However, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), a stakeholder in the coal block, has ruled out giving coal to any private company involved in building a thermal power plant in the state.
L&T director SN Roy, at a meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday, raised the demand for coal supply from the Pachwara block. As per the agreement with L&T, coal linkages are to be given by the state government; in case the latter fails to do so, it has to pay heavy penalties to the company building the plant.
The deadline for the first unit (700MW) of the Rs. 9,600-crore thermal project is January 17, 2014, but L&T is expected to complete work in December 2013, which is putting the PSPCL and the state government under pressure.
A senior official of the PSPCL told HT that it was not possible to give coal from the Pachwara block. "As per the allotment notification issued by the union coal ministry, end users from the block can't be changed. The ministry would not allow amendments in the notification," the official said.
As per the notification, three state-run thermal plants of Punjab - located at Bathinda, Rupnagar and Lehra Mohabbat would get 7 million tonnes of coal every year and the amount extracted from the block can't be increased. The Pachwara coal block fulfils 55% fuel requirement of three thermal plants and the rest is arranged from other sources.
The coal block was allotted to the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in 2002 and a joint venture company, Panem, with the PSEB as the major partner, was formed to extract coal from the place. "For extracting more coal and changing end users, we have to take the permission of the union coal ministry and the environment ministry," the PSPCL official said.
Meanwhile, Badal promised to take up Roy's demand for coal with the union coal ministry. The CM also asked him to explore options for importing coal to ensure timely power generation and to approach the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) for seeking approval for differential coal supply of 25-30%, as the PSERC has already permitted L&T to utilise 15% imported coal being supplied by Coal India Limited.
The L&T director also requested the CM to direct the PSPCL for expeditious extension of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the third unit of the Rajpura plant till July 2014.
Nod to set up power trading firm
With Punjab eyeing 3,920MW of power from three upcoming thermal plants (Talwandi Sabo, 1,980MW; Rajpura, 1,400MW; and Goindwal Sahib, 540MW), the state government on Friday asked PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhri to work out the modalities for establishing a power trading company so that its operations could start by September. Chaudhri told the CM that he had hired the services of financial experts and technocrats for the purpose.