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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Despite ‘best efforts’ no coal to run Punjab plants

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 13, 2014
First Published: 23:03 IST(13/7/2014) | Last Updated: 23:41 IST(13/7/2014)

 Despite ‘best efforts’ by the Punjab government, it is not getting the coal supply from the Centre to run its newly-commissioned thermal plants, which would easily give the state more than 2,000MW power.

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It is the paddy season and Punjab is in a desperate need of coal to generate sufficient power to feed 11.5 lakh agriculture tubewells for irrigating the crop. Owing to deficient rain, the state’s dependence for irrigation purposes is on tubewells.

It is learnt that wagons carrying coal have been diverted to Gujarat and Rajasthan. Top officials of the state government say a number of reminders and distress requests before the NDA government have had no effect.

Last week, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal along with a battery of officers from Punjab met union minister for power, coal and new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal and railways minister DV Sadananda Gowda.

“Our best of efforts so far have fallen flat,” said an officer. Top officials in Punjab revealed that at a time when the state was hoping for a prompt action from the NDA government, in which the SAD is key ally of the BJP, things are not moving at a steady pace.

Punjab has made it clear that it needs coal immediately and any delay would defeat the purpose. “After September 30, the Centre can reduce the coal supply,” said an officer, having this conveyed to the coal
minister and railways minister.

One unit (660MW) of the Talwandi Sabo thermal plant and two units of Rajpura thermal plant (each 700MW) are not generating power due to non-availability of coal. Three other thermal plants at Bathinda, Lehra Mohabbat and Rupnagar had tie-ups for coal and the state is getting the supply as per the requirement.

“Due to non-availability of coal we are losing thermal power generation of 2,060MW, which I think is sufficient to make us comfortable in the peak season when the demand has risen to all-time high of 10,800MW,” said chairman-cum-managing director of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) KD Chaudhri on being contacted by HT.

The PSPCL is only in position to make arrangements for 8,800MW, which leads to long-duration frequent power cut for all sections of consumers.

It needs a mention that Punjab requires 24 metric tonne of coal every day to run three units of its newly-commissioned thermal plants. In the meeting with power and coal minister, a demand for daily requirement of 6 rakes of coal was raised. But, as a senior official of state government revealed, so far there is no confirmation.

Sources say the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has cleared Punjab’s case for coal supply to newly-commissioned thermal plants. “The officials at Mahandi Coal Limited (the coal mine allotted to Punjab thermal plants), have said they would release coal for Punjab only after visiting the plants,” revealed an officer.

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