Industry Analysis

Coal supply to power plants to ease by October: Piyush Goyal

The situation of the coal supply to power stations across the country will be normalised by the end of September or early October, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal recently said while addressing a gathering at Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

“We are taking urgent measures to step up the coal supply to power stations,” Goyal said. His assurance came in the backdrop of N Srinivasan, President, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), flagging the issue of the depleting stock of coal at power stations. “Instead of buffer stock of 30-40 days, most of the power stations are having stock for 2-3 days,” Srinivasan pointed out while welcoming the Union Minister at the annual convention of the IACC, an apex body working for the bilateral ties between the two nations.

While promising that the coal supply to power stations will be resumed soon, Goyal said the ministry was regularising coal production for the last 18 months as power plants were not lifting coal because of easier availability of the commodity riding on the all-time high record production.

The Coal Secretary wrote to Chief Secretaries of all the states urging them to impress upon power stations to start stocking coal but this plea fell on deaf ears, the Minister said adding that the surge in demand for coal could be attributed to the fact that power supply from hydel, nuclear and other sources fell by 12 per cent, 36 per cent and 7 per cent, last month. As a result demand for power from thermal power plants rose substantially.

The shortage of coal stock at power stations augurs well as this will re-ignite the private investment more, Goyal said.

Responding to another query from IACC president, Srinivasan whether the government would restore the coal cess, which the government subsumed to GST, the Minister said the coal cess was introduced with the twin objectives of funding promotion of renewable energy and for fair pricing of coal based energy generation. While assuring that the importance given to renewable energy would continue much vigorously, he said that introduction of GST is in the national interest and sectarian interests should be submerged in the large interest of the nation.

Goyal, who was recently entrusted with the responsibility of key Railways portfolio, said 100 per cent electrification of railways was his priority so that RS 16,000 crore spent on diesel import every year for Railways are saved.

The Railways will focus to ramp up renewable energy considerably by utilising flexible light-weight solar panels on the rakes and stations, he said.

Goyal who had a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, informed that he would come up with initiatives to rapidly scale up facilities for suburban railway commuters.

The Minister harped on the need for improving the railway safety saying India needs to invest heavily in railway infrastructure to meet the decades-old backlog.

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