Failure to start Pachwara coalmine costs power corp Rs 300 cr annually
Even two years after the Union ministry reallocated the Pachwara coalmine in Jharkhand to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), it has failed to make it operational causing a loss of Rs 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 as four of the five bidders, who failed to qualify the tendering process, moved court. “The PSPCL is losing Rs 300 crore annually in terms of non-generation of electricity and paying higher price to Coal India Limited,” said a power corporation official.
He said now the PSPCL power engineers have suggested the management float fresh tenders. This will not only bring the PSPCL out of the legal tangle but will also increase competition, he said.
The state owned PSPCL has three coal-fired power generating units — Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, and Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Power Plant, Rupnagar — with a combined power generation capacity of 2,640 MW. All three plants are getting about seven million tonnes of coal from the Panem coalmines, also in Jharkhand, against the annual requirement of 13.6 million tonnes. The rest is supplied by Coal India Limited.
The three state-owned power plants need to go full steam to meet the summer demand as the 1,800-MW Talwandi Sabo Power Plant has been out of operation since April 17 after a minor fire.
The PSPCL has written to Coal India Limited to release additional 12 lakh tonnes of coal to meet the requirement this summer. The corporation gets 5.5 lakh tones of coal every month. “The additional 12 lakh tonnes of coal can be adjusted during winters, when the power demand is low in the state,” said a PSPCL employee.
Another PSPCL official said the board of directors has already decided to take a legal opinion on the previously called tenders. “Hopefully, fresh tenders would be called by May-end and the mine operation will start by December,” he said.
PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director A Venu Prasad could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.