Coal supply, utilisation under HC’s scanner

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Nov 2017 09:29:59


Staff Reporter,

HC seeks details about mechanism to monitor transport and utilisation of coal purchased through e-auction

Taking serious note of turf war between the coal and power utilities due to which power generation dipped last month, Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has directed the coal and power utilities to submit details about machinery available for monitoring transport and utilisation of coal by e-auction purchasers.

Last month the power generation dipped due to shortage of coal, claimed power utility while the coal companies made a claim about record production and all time high supply to Mahagenco. This inherent contradiction was placed before the High Court which noted that if the WCL produces sufficient coal and provides it to the Mahagenco, the need of power utility will be fulfilled.

A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi while hearing a PIL filed by a vigilant citizen Anil Wadpalliwar alleging turf-war between coal and power utilities which is bleeding state exchequer and hapless power consumers of Maharashtra, stressed the need to look into transport or utilisation of coal purchased through e-auction from Western Coalfields Limited.

According to counsel for the petitioner Adv Shreerang Bhandarkar, cent per cent coal requirement of the Mahagenco is not met with locally and WCL provides around 60 per cent of the coal and remaining 40 per cent of the coal is imported by it. He also claimed that this bogus import has been investigated into by the DRI and they have found these to be the only book entries.

The question is how the coal sold by e­auction by the WCL is being handled or transported. The checks and measures in
that respect may have important bearing on the controversy, the High Court noted while directing both utilities to file affidavit within two weeks.

This turf war is on between two utilities for last few years with both accusing each other for the mess. The blame game between power and coal companies over supply of quality coal was on with coal company hitting out at Mahagenco for not lifting the contracted quantity of coal and asserting about quality of coal supplied. Mahagenco in its affidavit had squarely blamed coal companies for supplying inadequate quantity of coal of questionable quality. Mahagenco has repeatedly claimed that it is “victim of coal companies who have not only given poor quality of coal but has also failed to deliver coal to the agreed quantum,” complaining about short supply of coal.

In 2011-12 the WCL had supplied 76.84% of the total agreed quantity, in 2012-13 it was 77.10% while in 2013-14, the WCL supplied only 74.71% of the agreed quantity, the Mahagenco’s affidavit had stated while justifying the import of costly coal to bridge the gap. The total burden on account of grade slippage was Rs 2,160 crore in financial year 2012-13, Mahagenco had claimed in an earlier affidavit filed before the High Court. This burden had resulted in rise in power tariff which was ultimately passed on to consumers and recovered from them, the Mahagenco had claimed in earlier affidavit.

The coal companies hit back citing very same statistics to demonstrate that Mahagenco was not interested in lifting the allotted coal quantity while vouching for its quality on the basis of coal controller organisations report certifying about quality of coal. Power companies run by other states are regularly lifting their coal and only Mahagenco is bickering, the WCL claimed in its affidavit while passing the blame on power utility.

Adv Shreerang Bhandarkar, Adv Ravi Pande appeared for the petitioner. Adv Rakesh Rathod (Mahagenco), Adv S C and Ashish Mehadia (CIL-WCL), Adv Mugdha Chandurkar (Union of India), Adv S V Purohit (MSEDCL) appeared for the respondents.