KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – Indian coal production from captive blocks allocated to thermal power plants has been estimated at 105-million tons a year by 2021/22, up from about 37-million tons a year at present, according to perspective planning on coal availability by the Power Ministry.
To date, 29 coal blocks have been auctioned for captive mining by thermal power producers and 11 to state governments.
In terms of perspective planning for the 2018/19 financial year, total dry fuel demand for thermal power plants has been pegged at 603-million tons, of which 513-million tons was expected to come from Coal India Limited (CIL), with the balance from Singareni Collieries Company and captive blocks operated by power companies.
However, more than volume availability, it is the transportation and logistical bottlenecks that have led to a fall in power plant stocks that has caught the attention of the Power Ministry, prompting it to hold a series of meetings over the past week with the Railways Ministry to ensure higher rake availability and faster turnaround by government transporter, Indian Railways.
The Power Ministry has pointed out that, for optimal and efficient movement of 603-million tons of coal from mines to power plant locations, Indian Railways will have to make available a minimum of 288 rakes.
However, while assuring maximum availability of rakes, Indian Railways communicated the need for faster turnaround of rakes which could only be achieved by cutting down on loading time by CIL.
Indian Railways is seeking to stipulate loading time benchmarks, wherein, at mines where two or more rakes are loaded a day, the loading time should not exceed four hours, while at mines loading less than two rakes a day, the loading time should not exceed five hours. These timings should enable Indian Railways to achieve higher turnaround of rakes on offer for loading.