Failing to resolve the coal crisis, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has put the onus on the Punjab government to find a way out. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is upset over the issue and the CM’s office has reportedly taken a serious note of the situation.
A meeting with Panem, the coal supplier, is likely to be held in Chandigarh on Thursday, at which the power secretary will deliberate upon the issue on behalf of the state government.
The PSPCL management is keen to resolve the matter by paying more to the coal supplier, but power engineers are opposing the move, saying that it would weaken the PSPCL’s position in the arbitration proceedings, which Panem has invoked.
Due to shortage of coal, the state - owned thermal power plants are not producing power as per their capacity and the PSPCL is purchasing power from outside the state to meet the rising demand for electricity.
Power cuts are being witnessed in many parts of Punjab for the past week. Officials said the coal crisis had started taking its toll, for which the present management was also liable as they had failed to settle the coal issue well in time.
A core group of engineers opposed the Panem proposal of giving Rs. 100 per tonne extra for coal, apart from Rs. 6 crore daily as advance rail freight.
“Giving these benefits will weak the PSPCL’s defence in the arbitration proceedings, which are underway with Panem, which is demanding more money to supply coal,” said the group of power engineers, to whom the management has referred the proposal to give more benefits to Panem.
The engineers advised the management to take legal opinion before doling out any benefit to Panem.
Following this, a meeting of whole-time directors of the PSPCL, which met on Tuesday, decided to refer the matter to the Punjab government.
And now, the power secretary will hold a meeting with Panem to resolve the issue. During the last financial year, all three thermal plants — at Ropar, Bathinda and Lehra — have failed to meet even the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) generation targets due to shortage of coal.
Panem, which meets 60% coal requirement of the three thermal plants of Punjab, had not been supplying coal since April 10. A PSPCL official claimed that the present corporation management was responsible for the mess.
Despite repeated attempts, PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) KD Chaudhri could not be contacted.