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Approximately 90 per cent of the 513 coal samples, which were picked up from the supply of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) between September 9, 2016 and January 31, 2017, have been found to be of substandard quality by Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR).
Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MSPGCL), also known as Mahagenco, which is one of the main buyers of coal from SECL, disclosed to The Indian Express these test results while talking about serious quality issues that are still present. SECL is the largest subsidiary of Coal India Limited and it has been facing major questions regarding quality of coal supplied.
“All the rakes loaded and dispatched from SECL are sampled by third-party agency. Currently, CSIR-CIMFR is working as third party agency and during 9.9.2016 and 31.1.2017, it has sampled around 513 samples. On the basis of results issued by CIMFR, around 90 per cent samples have been found to be deviating from the declared grade,” Mahagenco told The Indian Express.
On December 29 last year, SECL told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Steel and Coal that it has been taking various adequate measures to improve the quality of coal. The SECL also told the committee that Mahagenco has filed total 13 complaints — 10 complaints were about “oversized” coal and three were about “quality” issues — in between April, 2016 and September, 2016.
As per coal quality supply agreement between the SECL and Mahagenco, the former is required to supply coal having size less than 100 mm. Any coal having size more than 100 mm is deemed “oversized” or “lumpy” coal. The SECL did not reply to the queries sent by The Indian Express.
“As soon as Mahagenco receives lumpy coal from any company, it is general practice to bring it to the notice of concerned coal company through letter. Generally, the SECL does not reply to such letters of Mahagenco. However, Mahagenco expects improvement in the quality of coal dispatched. Between October 16 (in 2016) to March 17 (in 2017), Mahagenco has filed around 14 complaints for oversized coal and around 7 complaints related to quality of coal with the SECL. The deviations in the grade of coal is still observed,” Mahagenco told The Indian Express.
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 13 complaints against SECL came from Mahagenco only. 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 have been 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. NTPC’s Sipat plant and GWEL submitted five complaints each with SECL in the same time period.
“SECL has entered into tripartite agreement with CIMFR and power utilities for third party sampling of coal being supplied to power utilities,” the SECL told Parliamentary committee. 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.