Under fire for "unscheduled" load shedding during sweltering hot conditions, Punjab's power utility PSPCL on Monday said it has decided to import coal worth Rs 550 crore from South Africa to meet growing energy demand.
Facing lesser coal supplies, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) will import 6 lakh tonnes of coal from South Africa.
"We will be importing 6 lakh tonnes of coal worth Rs 500-550 crore from South Africa. The coal will start reaching power units from July onwards," PSPCL CMD K D Chaudhri told PTI today.
He said the imported coal would be sufficient to meet the rising demand for power in the wake of scorching heat and paddy sowing season.
"We will buy coal as per requirement. We are doing it because of (coal) shortage," he informed.
Earlier, the state-owned power utility had imported coal in 2006-07, he said.
PSPCL is currently receiving 3.5 rakes of daily coal supplies against the demand for 9 rakes of coal. The supplies from Pachwara Coal block in Jharkhand to three plants of PSPCL have not yet started as mining developer has not been finalised yet.
"Punjab government has written to the Centre in this regard (so that mining again starts)," he said. PSPCL's coal block was among other coal blocks in the country which were cancelled by the Supreme Court last year.
However, PSPCL CMD claimed that power utility had sufficient quantity of coal at their disposal for running the plants to meet the peak demand in the wake of summer and paddy sowing season.
"We have coal stock of 17 (Lehra Mohabbat plant), 24 (Ropar plant) and 19 (Bathinda plant) days at our three plants at present," he said.
"Had we not built up coal stock, we would have severe problem while meeting soaring demand for power," he asserted.
Asked about predictions of "weak" monsoon, Chaudhri said the state-owned utility will resort to load shedding in order to bridge gap between demand and supply.
"In case of extreme situations, there can be (power) regulations. But lets hope for the best," he said, adding that some regulatory measures could not be ruled out because in such situations restrictions were imposed by NRLDC or SLDC
(State Load Despatch Centre).
Asserting that PSPCL was geared up to meet the demand for power during summer season, CMD said power utility has successfully met current season's peak demand of 10,500 MW of power.