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Coal shortage may hit upcoming thermal projects in Punjab
Given the fact that there is no surplus coal with Coal India Ltd (CIL), it is highly likely that this could pose a serious problem for upcoming projects in Punjab, which are expected to be commissioned in the financial year 2013-14.

IN PUNJAB, three thermal projects are expected to be commissioned in the financial year 2013-14. These thermal projects include 570 MW at Goindwal Sahib, 1980 MW at Talwandi sabo and 1400 MW at Rajpura. In addition, 2640 MW thermal project at Gidderwaha has been allotted to NTPC. The state Government has also proposed a thermal project near Mukerian in state sector.

For Talwandi sabo E/F grade coal has been sanctioned from Basundra coal fields. The private company is yet to enter fuel supply agreement with CIL. For Rajpura coal linkage from Korba Raigarh fields was given for original capacity. Additional coal linkage has been sought. For Goindwal Sahib captive coal mines in Takisud north block are there and work for providing railway siding is going on at present.

NTPC has not started any work for Gidderwaha thermal as there was no coal linkage and project may be slipped to 13th five year plan. According to official sources, CIL has committed to supply coal of 347 million tons (MT) to power sector projects as per fuel supply agreement and 42 MT coal as per memorandum of understanding (MOU) made during 2012-13. It may not be possible to enhance coal supply beyond these levels. Last year CIL supplied 312 MT against the target of 328.21mn tonnes for Power Utilities. In view of above, the coal supply may be a major problem for the upcoming thermal projects in Punjab.

This coal shortage problem will also be faced by those plants that already have coal supply agreements. The plants will have to make do with what they have since there is no extra coal available for replenishing stocks. Coal imports are likely to double by the end of this five year plan. Specifically, from the existing 90 MT, imports are expected to reach a level of 180 MT by 2016-17.

The average coal stock in thermal plants of the country has declined to just 8 days, as per latest CEA report. CEA which monitored the 89 thermal plants across country in its  report of September 4, points out that the overall coal stock has declined to about 8 days against the normative stock requirement of 22 days. Coal stocks at 30 power stations of the country with a less than a week stock come under critical category and out of these 19 power stations having less than 4 days stock are under super critical category.

A number of thermal power plants across the country today are running at sub-optimal plant load factor (PLF) levels due to fuel shortages. Thermal plants in country registered a plant load factor of 66.84% during the month of July.

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