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After 55 Complaints in April-Sept 2016: SECL puts a new ‘quality regime’, signs tripartite pacts with various firms

As the number of complaints from power utilities are quite high, the SECL has been taking various steps for coal quality improvement.

Written by Deepak Patel | New Delhi | April 5, 2017 2:06:28 am
south eastern coalfields limited, SECL, coal india, coal production india, coal production corruption, coal blocks allocation, indian express Photo for representational purpose

Coal India’s largest subsidiary South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) received 55 complaints from power generation companies — including Jindal Power Limited (JPL), NTPC Ltd and GMR Warora Energy Limited (GWEL) — regarding poor quality of coal supply between April 2016 and September 2016.

Maximum complaints came from Maharasthra State Power Generation Company Limited (MSPGCL), also known as Mahagenco. The company filed total 13 complaints. Three of them were related to “quality” issues while the remaining ten were related to “oversized” coal issues. Mahagenco’s issues were related to coal supply from areas such as Kusmunda, Gevra, Raigarh and Bishrampur.

As the number of complaints from power utilities are quite high, the SECL has been taking various steps for coal quality improvement. On December 29 last year, the SECL told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Steel and Coal that it has put a “quality regime” in all areas under its supervision. It has suspended the production from the “mine where thin seam workings deteriorated the quality of coal produced”.

A coal seam is a bed of coal usually thick enough to be profitably mined. The SECL told the panel it is stopping the extraction “from the seams where due to geo-mining condition quality has deteriorated”. Other steps to improve quality include revision of grade of mines and sidings, no dispatch of coal to power sector from siding (railway line) where crushing arrangement is not available till date, and installation of two washeries at Kusmunda and Raigarh area.

Between April 2016 and September 2016, JPL filed 11 complaints with the SECL on coal supply quality from the latter’s Raigarh area. As per SECL data, JPL had filed ten complaints related to “quality” issues, while it submitted one complaint related to “oversized” coal issues. JPL did not reply to the queries sent by The Indian Express.

NTPC’s Sipat plant and GWEL submitted five complaints each with SECL in the same time period. Both companies did not reply to queries sent by The Indian Express. DCM Shriram filed a complaint with SECL regarding “shortage” issues in coal supply that was done from Sohagpur area. Prakash Industries Ltd also filed a complaint regarding “quality” issues with the coal supplied from SECL’s Bishrampur area. Rajasthan government’s first coal-fired power plant in Kota — Kota Super Thermal Power Station— filed 2 complaints with SECL regarding “oversized” coal.

While SKS Ispat and Power filed four complaints regarding low quality coal, Madhya Pradesh Power Generation Company Ltd (MPPGCL) filed three complaints. These two firms also did not reply to the queries sent by The Indian Express.

To improve coal quality, one of the major steps taken by the SECL is the revision of the grade of mines and sidings. The SECL told the Parliamentary Committee that it has revised the grades of eight sidings and one mine between April 2016 and September 2016. The SECL is operating 86 mines — 62 of them are underground, 23 are open cast and one is of mixed category. Out of 86 mines, 52 mines are situated in Chhattisgarh, while the remaining are in Madhya Pradesh.

“SECL has entered into tripartite agreement with Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR) and power utilities for third party sampling of coal being supplied to power utilltities,” the SECL told parliamentary committee. On July 13, 2016, one such tripartite agreement was signed with NTPC and its joint venture NTPC-SAIL Power Company Limited (NSPCL). On July 28, 2016, the SECL signed such agreements with Mahagenco, MPPGCL and JPL.

The SECL also signed agreement for third party sampling with GWEL and Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on August 31, 2016 and September 19, 2016, respectively. On October 26 last year, the SECL signed such agreements with three other entities – Torrent Power, Reliance Power and Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB).

Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Udpadan Nigam Limited, Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited, Nabha Power and Vedanta group also signed the tripartite agreement with the SECL on November 28 last year. Meanwhile, for better coal quality supply, the SECL told the Parliamentary committee that it has also established laboratories “with NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accreditation for coal sampling analysis”.

According to the SECL, the area labs of Kusmunda, Gevra, Dipka, Sohagpur, Johilla, Hasdeo, Bhatgaon and Bishrampur have been accredited by the NABL. “Two areas Baikunthpur and J&K area are in the process to get accreditation from NABL, and three areas — Raigarh, Korba and Chirmiri — are to file the application in this regards,” SECL told the Parliamentary Committee.

SECL also told the Parliamentary Committee that one of the major challenges being faced by it is “delay in acquisition of land, evacuation of sites and its possession due to cumbersome takeover process, improper land records, rehabilitation and resettlement of affected families”. The CIL arm also said, when it last met on December 29 last year, that several of its new projects “could not be started this year due to (delay in) environment clearances and forest clearances.” The company added that it has “applied for environment clearance enhancement of Dipka and Gevra projects, which have not been granted till date.”

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