KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) - India’s Coal Ministry has identified eight coal blocks for allocation to thermal power companies that are facing a shortage of feedstock.
According to a note prepared by the Ministry, a technical committee had recommended that these eight coal blocks be considered for allocation specifically to the thermal power sector given the nature and quantity of the reserves in these blocks.
The blocks include Pokharia Paharpur and Gosai-Pahari-Siulibani, in Jharkhand province, Kuraloi (A) North mine and Saradhpur (N) Sector-1 mines, in Odisha, and Kapsdanga- Bharkata block in West Bengal, all in eastern India.
The blocks have been explored regionally by the provincial government and reserves estimated at around 8.3-billion tonnes.
In July 2013, the Indian government had allocated 14 coal blocks for captive use by steel, cement and power producers, including the country’s largest electricity generator, NTPC Limited.
However, Coal Ministry officials said that the eight blocks identified in eastern India would be allocated specifically to power companies given the shortage of coal and the risk of power shortages across the country.
According to the Independent Power Producers’ Association, thermal power plants were facing a fuel shortage of about 120-million tonnes.
Several private power producers have submitted to the government that the latter should initiate the auction of the 24 coal blocks already de-allocated following failure by several to develop them for captive use.
The private power producers said that auction of the 24 coal blocks would substantially bridge the shortfall in coal supplies by at least 80-million tonnes.
According to Coal Ministry estimates, peak coal supply shortage was forecast at 200-million tonnes by 2016/17, compared with 120-million tonnes in 2013/14. The shortfall would have been higher, at 150-million tonnes, during the last fiscal but for the fact that several new thermal power plant did not go into production having failed to secure coal supplies.
Nearly 208 coal blocks have been allocated since 1993 with a reserve capacity of 50-million tonnes to 60-billion tonnes. At an average annual production of 400-million to 500-million tonnes these mines had the potential to last 50 years.