Power plants are facing coal shortage across the country, but the state-owned power generation company in Haryana is also grappling with another serious problem at the same time. It loses thousands of metric tonnes of coal worth a whopping Rs 350 crore in transit due to pilferage.
The Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited's (HPGCL) coal transit loss, which gets coal supplies for its power plants at Hisar, Yamunanagar and Panipat from Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, is one of the highest in the country.
While the corporation requires 15 million metric tonnes of coal to operate its three thermal power plants at a cost of about Rs 5,000 crore a year, 7% of coal on an average is lost in transit from the coalfields to its power stations in the state. The Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram Thermal Power Station at Yamunanagar suffered a coal transit loss of 7% and 9% in financial years 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively.
Similarly, the power plants at Panipat and Hisar had coal transit losses between 5% and 7% in the past two years as against 2% in the neighbouring states. In contrast, NTPC's power stations at Dadri, Unchahar and Badarpur have been reporting less than 1% coal transit loss. The rising transit losses, which put additional financial burden on the power consumers or get reflected in the financial losses of HPGCL, have been a matter of concern for the power sector regulator, Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission.
HERC, which has allowed only 1.5% coal transit loss to the generation company in the financial year 2012-13 against the norms of 0.8%, has repeatedly asked HPGCL to take immediate measures to reduce the transit loss. "The progress on the steps required to control the transit loss is slow and inadequate and needs to be expedited," the regulatory commission commented in its March 29 order, expressing its displeasure.
When contacted, HPGCL managing director Anurag Aggarwal told Hindustan Times that the corporation appointed a Kolkata-based private firm as its coal-handling agent for reducing the transit loss last week. The agency has been selected through a competitive bidding process for bringing the transit loss level to 2%. The agency, which was the lowest bidder with handling charges of Rs 2 per metric tonne, will be given additional incentive for any further reduction.
In case the transit loss remained above 3%, heavy penalty would be imposed on the coal-handling agency, said the HPGCL managing director. The generation firm had been asked by the power regulator to bring down the coal transit loss to 2% by October this year by increasing the consumption of washed and imported coal, vigorously pursue the matter with the railways, coal companies and other departments of the Central government.
HPGCL has been all along been blaming the transit loss on long distance from coalfields to the generating stations and its effect on evaporation, wind, seepage, theft and pilferage in transit, stating that these factors were beyond its control.
Punjab plants fare better
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been more or less able to keep the transit loss of coal for its thermal power stations in Bathinda, Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat under check. It has reported transit loss of less than 2% for these power plants at different periods. Giving the Punjab example, the HERC had asked HPGCL to interact with the PSPCL officials to study their model and adopt the steps taken by them to control the transit loss.
The regulator had also brushed aside its argument that there was long distance between the coalfields and the generating stations, stating that the distance in the case of the PSPCL plants was roughly the same but the transit loss at these stations was not 9%.