Delay in making Jharkhand coal mine operational costing power corp ₹300 cr annually
Even five years after the Union ministry reallocated the Pachwara coal mine in Jharkhand to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), it has failed to make it operational, causing a loss of ₹300 crore annually.
The mine, which was reallocated to the PSPCL in April 2015, has been shut since March 31, 2015, as the corporation has failed to select a new operator. The PSPCL tender to hire the new operator has hit a legal tangle, despite the fact that the bidding process was completed.
The old operator of the mine moved the court and won the case against the PSPCL, stalling its move to hire a new contractor. Now, the PSPCL has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the orders of high court.
“Due to non-operation of its own coal mine, the PSPCL is spending ₹300 crore extra on purchasing coal from other sources. And this is being recovered from the consumers. Had the coal mine been operational, we could have cut the production cost of electricity,” said a power corporation official.
Elaborating further, he said the Pachhwara Central Coal Mine was allotted to PSPCL by the ministry of coal on March 31, 2015. The global tender enquiry for the selection of mine developer-cum-operator was floated on August 30, 2015, but the process got stuck due to legal issues. And a fresh global tender enquiry was floated on April 30, 2018, to select the operator.
The PSPCL signed coal mining agreement with M/s DBL on September 11, 2018 for development and operation of Pachhwara central coal mine.
However, M/s EMRA, partner of M/s PANEM, which had operated the mine prior to cancellation filed a civil writ petition claiming its right for novation of the contract to run the coal mine. Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 25, 2019, issued its judgment in favour of M/s EMTA regarding right of first refusal. And this stalled the process of making the coal mine operational.
“We have taken all other necessary permission from the Jharkhand government to start the 1,051-hectare mine to produce 7-million tonnes coal every year, but the operations shall commence only as per the decision of the Supreme Court. So, the PSPCL has to wait till it gets a favourable decision, otherwise there will be more delay,” he said.
The state owned PSPCL has two coal-fired power generating units — Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat; and Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Power Plant, Rupnagar.
PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director Baldev Sigh Sran could not be contacted. However, PSPCL in its petition for tariff hike before the power regulator has submitted these facts.
At present, the PSPCL has available fuel linkages for its own thermal generating stations from Coal India Limited subsidiaries — Central Coalfields Ltd., Bharat Coking Coal Ltd., South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. to meet its coal requirements.