HC raps Mahagenco, WCL for dismal coal scenario

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Jul 2018 09:37:25


Staff Reporter,


Ensure stock of 22 days in power plants

High Court unhappy with blame game between PSUs
dealing with critical power sector

Rapping the coal and power companies for indulging in turf war leading to dismal coal stock situation in thermal power stations, Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed them to ensure adequate coal stocks in all thermal power plants within next two months. Right now, the plants have stocks ranging from one day to seven days even though coal company is claiming record production and Railways claiming surplus rakes with them while Mahagenco is claiming less realisation and congestion of rail track as reasons for poor realisation.

Due to lack of co-ordination, neither the coal is transported or lifted, due to which a critical situation has been created which may affect development of state in coming months.
Expressing deep anguish over the blame game between State power generating utility-Mahagenco, Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) and other coal subsidiaries of Coal India Limited (CIL) and Railways which has resulted in this mess, a division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Z A Haq, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a vigilant citizen Anil Wadpalliwar, directed to ensure better co-ordination and improve the situation.

PIL filed by Wadpalliwar had blasted both utilities for turf war over supply of quality coal due to which costly coal was imported, power situation got worsened and burden was passed on to hapless consumers.

Power generation capacity of Mahagenco is 10,380 MW and Mahagenco has coal linkage of 56.529 MMTPA from Coal India and its subsidiaries like WCL, SECL, SCCL MCL etc. Due to less materialisation of domestic coal by CIL, thermal power plants at Maharashtra are receiving inadequate coal as compared to actual requirement and order placed.

Counsel for the petitioner Adv Shrirang Bhandarkar launched a blistering attack against power and coal utilities and charged them with messing up this critical sector. The state is reeling under power outage due to monumental mismanagement of coal procurement, he claimed while apprehending that if urgent steps are not taken, the state may face unprecedented power crisis during ensuing months and this can be used as a ploy to import costly coal. He also criticised the decision of Mahagenco to sell coal to private power companies. The High Court then directed the Mahagenco to file reply within two weeks.

During last hearings, the High Court took a serious note of turf war between the coal and power utilities due to which power generation dipped to alarming level while directing the coal and power utilities to submit details about machinery available for monitoring transport and utilisation of coal by e-auction purchasers.

In response, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and Ministry of Power had ruled out any need to import coal for augmenting power generation by public sector electricity generating units. But at the same time, the CEA confirmed the poor performance of Mahagenco and confirmed that its plant load factor (PLF) is merely 47%, a reason why Maharashtra often faces power crisis.

According to Mahagenco, during 2017-18, from WCL coal realisation was 67.54% while from MCL it was 47.69% and from SECL it was barely 33.62%/. From SCCL it was 47.41% and thus as against the coal linkage of 32,469 million metric tonne the Mahagenco received only 19,127 mmt or barely 58.58 % making critical shortage of coal reserve with power plants.

The coal utilities have refuted the allegation and WCL claimed that it had supplied upto 91% of the contracted coal quantity to the state power utility and wondered as to why WCL was being unnecessarily dragged despite diligently supplying coal to thermal power stations of Mahagenco.

In its affidavit WCL also blamed shortage of Rail rakes for unsatisfactory supply of cheap domestic coal from railway sidings and expressed its inability to improve the supply in short run while passing the buck on Railways and Power utility to improve mechanism to lift coal.

The Mahagenco in its latest affidavit blamed the heavy congestion on single rail track between Kalamna and Godhni. The movement of rail traffic between South-Eastern Central Railway (SECR) to North Delhi route and vice versa along with rake movement to Koradi plant takes place on this route. This leads to bunching of rakes at unloading end. Till now doubling of 4.5 km out of the total 9 km length had been doubled by SECR. Adv Shrirang Bhandarkar appeared for the petitioner. Adv Rakesh Rathod (Mahagenco), GP Sumant Deopujari (State) Adv S C Mehadia (CIL-WCL), ASG Ulhas Aurangabadkar and Adv Mugdha Chandurkar (Union of India), Adv S V Purohit (MERC) appeared for the respondents.