Despite the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) having paid Rs. 100 crore as advance ad hoc payment to the coal supplier, the power corporation instead of getting a regular supply of coal has been threatened by the supplier to curtail the coal supply to the thermal plants in Punjab.
Not only this, Panem, the coal supplier, has also threatened that whatever quantity of coal has been exposed will be dispatched by October end or mid-November and after that the PSPCL may take charge of the mine.
Owing to the 'inefficient' handling, the PSPCL has been facing problems in coal supplies from a mine that has been allotted to it. Two units of the Lehra thermal plant have been put on shutdown keeping in view the dwindling coal stock position.
Around 60% of the coal requirements of the three thermal plants of the state are met by the company. Panem meets 85% of the coal requirement of the Lehra Mohabbat plant.
Alarmed at the threat by the supplier, the PSPCL has mooted the proposal of purchasing power or coal from outside.
Panem that used to supply 80-90 racks of coal per month to the Lehra Mohabbat plant has reduced the supplies to half despite the fact that its mining capacity has been increased by the PSPCL from 7 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 9 MTPA for 2013-14, and it will be further enhanced to 15 MTPA subsequently.
Panem, a joint venture of the PSPCL and EMTA, had written to the CMD of the PSPCL on September 6 that some political parties would embark on another demonstration in October with fresh demands and might result in stoppage of the functioning of the mine. In such a case, PANEM would not be party to future negotiations and the PSPCL must depute a director to deal with the agitators, it had written.
Though there were no protests in October, Panem has failed to enhance the supply, as desired by the PSPCL.
Panem further claimed that the coal quality being supplied was superior to what was being declared by the power plants and the PSPCL had not taken any favourable decision in this regard.
The PSPCL took note of the situation and decided to make alternative arrangements of coal supply and to go in for power purchase in this lean season.
The PSPCL anticipates that the stock at the Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda thermal plants will last till October end. According to sources, the coal stock at the Lehra Mohabbat plant will last 12 days, at the Rupnagar plant 16 days and at the Bathinda plant it will last 18 days.
A senior PSPCL official said that after having failed to influence the Lehra Mohabbat plant authorities to toe its line, Panem reduced the supplies to it. Panem even challenged the coal test results by the Lehra plant and went for a third-party testing.
Panem has also invoked arbitration proceedings on various issues such as surface transport charges, coal quality analysis by power stations, deductions on account of excess moisture and issues relating to the railways.
The PSPCL has appointed RS Mann, former chief secretary, Punjab, as its arbitrator and an arbitration meeting has already taken place.
Despite repeated attempts, director generation GS Chhabra could not be contacted.