Reviving hope for 50 fuel-starved electricity generating plants, Coal India has lined up nearly Rs 5,000 crore to buy 2,000 wagons from the railways.
The state-run coal firm has been facing criticism for failing to supply adequate fuel to nearly 50 thermal power plants (TPPs), rendering them critically fuel-starved leading to a notional loss in output of 14,000 MW of electricity in 2014-15. Moreover, the PSU missed its output target for 2014-15 by 3 per cent at 494.23 million tonnes (MT) against the targeted 507 MT. Equally worrying is the offtake of fuel by its buyers at 489.34 MT, 6 per cent short of the target.
All of these factors have compelled the firm’s top brass to decide on buying wagons from the railways to overcome the paucity of rakes. It is also learnt that CIL’s board gave an “in principle” nod for the move in October. Meanwhile, railways have completed two rounds of talks with CIL for the deal.
An agreement is likely to be signed by July. When contacted, CIL chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharyya said that an amount of Rs 500 crore is likely to be invested this year for the purpose and rest of the investment is likely to happen by 2016.
However, a senior coal ministry official said CIL may purchase about 10,000 wagons by 2017. When asked to comment on the category of wagons CIL would be needing for faster transportation with a reasonable turnaround time, a CIL official said BOX-N wagons would be ideal for the same.
These plants have implied that they have fuel only for seven days. Cash-strapped railways is also keen to seal the deal as it would help in injecting Rs 5,000 crore if CIL decides to buy 5,000 more wagons.
As per the Railway Budget 2015-16, out of total revenue projections for the next fiscal, revenue from coal transportation would contribute the highest at Rs 50,398 crore, up from Rs 44,486 crore in the current fiscal.
The state-run transporter has planned to invest Rs 8.5 lakh crore in improving its rolling stock position along with passenger amenities and logistics. It needs to invest close to Rs 1.8 lakh crore to improve logistics and rolling stock including wagons.