This comes when the country needs more coal to produce power with the economy picking up and there is a huge fall in coal imports because of about three-fold hike in coal prices in the international market.
Rail Roko agitation as a part of farmer protest had hit the coal train service badly with 46 railway rakes carrying 2 lakh tonnes of coal to the power plants were stuck as protesters held a nationwide blockade of train movement on Monday.
This comes at a time when the country needs more coal to produce power with the economy picking up and there is a huge fall in coal imports because of about three-fold hike in coal prices in the international market.
“Punjab and Rajasthan remained the most affected states because of the Rail Roko movement. At a time when the entire government machinery is working in close association to meet the excess coal demand of the nation, some middlemen in the name of innocent farmers squatted on railway tracks and hindered the movement of coal rakes that caused aberration in the coal supply to the power plants,” a senior government official said.
“46 railway rakes carry about 2 lakh tonnes of coal, which is meant to produce 322 million units (MUs) of power that equals to two days electricity needs of the state like Punjab. This is a huge loss to the farmers especially at a time when they need more electricity for irrigation purposes,” the official added.
This is the time when coal warriors are toiling day and night to fulfill the coal demands of the nation and national miner Coal India Limited (CIL), which accounts for over 80 per cent of the national coal output, is ensuring that there is no dearth of coal to the thermal power plants.
The government has made sure that the supply of coal remains more than the demand of this dry fuel.
“Ironically, on the one hand both the states Punjab and Rajasthan are repeatedly stating that there is huge shortage of coal and on the other hand they are supporting the miscreants who are stopping supply of coal to these states. Only the innocent farmers suffer because of the double standards of these states. Thanks to the alternative mode of coal transportation made by the central government, the problem somehow got managed,” said another government official on the condition of anonymity.
Thermal power plants need on average 1.90 million tonnes of coal to fulfill the demand of power on a daily basis and they are being supplied around 2 million tonnes of coal against the demand.
Notably, the coal stock situation at thermal power plants has improved further as the number of non-pithead thermal power plants having less than four days of coal has reduced to 58 on Monday from 69 a week ago.
The central government has directed all coal producers including CIL and other captive miners to ramp up coal supplies so that no power plant in the country runs out of coal.