‘Fall in coal output hurting railways’

* Railway chairman demands intervention of Cabinet Secy to ramp up supplies

Written by Priyadarshi Siddhanta | New Delhi | Published: October 16, 2012 12:53 am

Coal India Ltd has slipped to production levels of last year raising concerns about its ability to push its output by 9 per cent after two years of flat production.

The public sector company has loaded only 155 rakes per day in August,because of which coal stocks at several thermal power stations have dipped to less than four days of reserves. Incidentally,the coal ministry has de-allocated 13 coal blocks given to private sector this year in the wake of an alleged scam in the allocation of these mines.

In a letter sent by Railway board chairman Vinay Mittal to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth,Mittal demands his intervention to ramp up supplies. The railway ministry has a corresponding concern as low levels of coal movement sharply reduce the freight earnings of the transporter. Coal freight accounts for 38 per cent of the total earnings from commodities for the Railways every year.

The shortage of coal supply can stop production of electricity at the 34 thermal power plants of the country creating a power crisis. Mittal has also noted that CIL domestic loading has not been compensated by imports which has been only 11 MT in this fiscal against 46 planned for 2012-13.

His comments will further the miseries of the coal sector which is reeling under the coal allocation controversy.

Mittal said in August,CIL was supposed to load more than 190 rakes a day whereas the company could not load more than 155 rakes. Similar trend continued last month also.

“This is leading to depletion of coal stocks across the country with thermal power plants being critical (having stocks less than 7 days) including 20 plants being super critical (with stock less than 4 days).Again of the 46 Million Tonne of coal imports targeted for this fiscal for the thermal power plants,only 11.58 MT have materialised so far compounding the crisis,the railway board chief contended. However,CIL chairman S Narsing Rao told The Indian Express that his company is loading 184 railway rakes daily as against 153 last year.

The railway missive has cautioned that the lack of imports in the first half of the year will lead to congestion both at the ports and in the railway network in the last quarter of the fiscal year.

“Although the railway ministry is in constant touch with coal and power ministries,intervention from your end is requested,” railway board chief told the cabinet secretary.

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