Power Ministry should bear any coal import so that consumers are spared of increase in rates
Report by Kamgar Ekta committee (KEC) correspondent
Power engineers led by the All India Power Engineers’ Federation (AIPEF) have opposed the coal import order issued by the government to the domestic thermal power plants. The AIPEF in its press release has said that the domestic coal stock was sufficient to fend off any need to import coal. The coal ministry has strongly contended there is no shortage of coal, and the coal stock and supply position is vastly improved this year as compared to previous year.
AIPEF Chairman Shri Shailendra Dubey said the decision to import coal was unjustified since the coal ministry has ensured adequate availability of domestic coal which is far more economic. The data released by the coal ministry indicate that coal import was not justified, and coal stock on October 21, 2023 was 71.35 million tonne as against 60.44 million tonne last year.
The AIPEF believes that the repeated invoking of the Section 11 of Electricity Act 2003 to direct power plants to compulsorily import coal was a clear attempt to provide business and profits to companies engaged in coal trading/import while loading the cost escalation due to import on power consumers.
In a 23 October 2023 notification, the government asked all power generating companies to import coal up to 6 percent of their requirements till March 2024. In another notification the government asked all imported coal-based power plants to operate at full capacity until June 30, 2024. The imported coal-based power plants account for 17,000 MW of power generation capacity.
The government has claimed that increased coal import for power generation has become necessary due to the rise in electricity demand and inadequate domestic coal supplies.
The AIPEF has demanded the government to withdraw its orders extending the import window, so that the more economic indigenous coal is used and consumers are spared of rate increase. The AIPEF further demanded that if at all any coal is to be imported henceforth, the power ministry should bear the extra cost of imported coal since the more economic alternative of Indian coal was already available in stock at thermal power stations across the country.