In a major boost to the power sector in Punjab, the Centre has allocated a dedicated coal block in Deocha-Pachami (West Bengal) with coal reserves of 229 million tonnes.
Accepting the request of the Punjab government, the union coal ministry allocated the coal mine on Wednesday for state-sector thermal power plants. Punjab had made this request last year after it prepared a plan to build a 1,320-MW thermal power plant at Mukerian (Hoshiarpur district).
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had in 2012 applied to the coal ministry for a coal mine with a minimum 500 million tonnes of extractive quantity of coal, but the Centre has met only half of the demand. However, the reserves would cater to the state's needs for more than 25 years, experts said.
The Mukerian project was a long-pending demand of power engineers, who had been cautioning the state government over private monopoly in the state after four projects come into operation in the private sector.
If the construction goes as per the PSPCL plan and there is no objection from the union environment ministry, the Mukerian plant will become operational around 2017-18.
The PSPCL already has a coal mine in Pachwara (Jharkhand), which has extractive reserves of 270 million tonnes. This can cater to existing plants for another 30 years.
Meanwhile, reviewing the progress of under-construction thermal plants at a meeting in Chandigarh on Thursday, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal said the allocation of the coal block had removed the main hindrance to the Mukerian plant. He said the PSPCL should come out with a plan to complete the project in a time-bound manner.
Power-surplus dream on track: Sukhbir
During the meeting, power secretary Anirudh Tiwari informed Sukhbir Badal that the first unit of the 2,640-MW Talwandi Sabo thermal plant was set to be completed by Diwali and the first unit of the Rajpura plant would be dedicated to the people of Punjab on December 8. He said the second unit of the Talwandi Sabo plant would be completed by April 2014 and the Rajpura thermal plant's second unit would be operational by May 2014.
Expressing satisfaction over the timely completion of these projects, Sukhbir said by next summer, these two plants alone would supply 3,960 MW of power to the state, turning the dream of making Punjab power-surplus into reality.