Owing to ongoing shortage of coal and protest by engineers, two of the three thermal power plants in Punjab are not working. As a result, the state termed “power-surplus” by its government is running on short-term purchases and central allocation of electricity.
Partial restoration of coal supply has begun, but the stock is not expected before May 14, and that too won’t be sufficient, said sources.
The Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda plants are completely shut now, while only three of the six units at the Rupnagar thermal plant are working.
This means that while Punjab has 14 units with 2,620 MW of installed capacity in thermal generation, only about 600 MW is being generated. Another 600 MW is coming from hydel generation plants; the average demand remains around 4,300 MW.
The crisis began when Panem, the firm that operates mines and meets 60% coal demand for Punjab, stopped supply from April 10, reportedly seeking a hike in prices already determined in an agreement.
It is now learnt that Panem has finally started loading three rakes of coal each day from May 9 onwards, against the normal supply of six rakes per day.
The rakes, sent from the mine in Jharkhand, take five days to reach Punjab, hence would arrive from May 14.
Sources told HT that the PSPCL top brass held meetings with Panem and agreed to Rs. 100 per tonne over and above the rates decided in the agreement, plus Rs. 6 crore a day as advance freight.
It is further learnt that the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) planned to restart a unit each at Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat on Sunday, but that could not be done as PSCPCL engineers have decided to work only as per rule (9am to 5pm on working days, not beyond) to lodge protest against service extension given to the corporation’s chair man-cummanaging director (CMD).
For a final call on the coal crisis, the PSPCL management has asked a high-level committee of five chief engineers, legal adviser and an officer from the finance wing to decide.
But even the committee’s meeting scheduled for Sunday at Mohali could not be held due to the engineers’ work-to-rule protest; it would now be held on Monday. Despite several attempts, PSPCL CMD KD Chaudhri could not be contacted for comment.
Thermal plant Units (total capacity) Operational
Bathinda 4 (440 MW) Zero
Lehra Mohabbat 4 (920 MW) Zero
Rupnagar 6 (1,260 MW) 3 (635 MW)