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Coal crisis fans power cut scare

- Tussle between NTPC & supplier over quality

Patna, April 3: The state is heading towards a possible power crisis, as four units of NTPC have stopped generation owing to non-supply of coal from Rajmahal Coalfields in Jharkhand.

The standoff between the NTPC-Kahalgaon (Bhagalpur) and Rajmahal Coalfields on payment related to coal quality has posed the threat. The dispute has resulted in stoppage of supply not only to Kahalgaon’s two units but also to two units of Farakka (Bengal).

Rajmahal Coalfields, also known as Lalmatiya coal pits is an undertaking of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).

Several parts of the city today experienced power cuts ranging from two to three hours.

Energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav said in the Assembly today two units each of NTPC in Farakka and Kahalgaon had been shut down and the other units were generating power less than their capacity owing to the coal shortage.

Sources said NTPC Kahalgaon had reduced the plant load factors (PLF). The entire eastern grid would be affected, as Farakka too is on the verge of a shutdown.

PLF is the measure of the average capacity utilisation.

“The coal stocks of these thermal plants would be finished within a couple of days, leading to closure of other units. Today, I talked to the NTPC chairperson and found out that even Mahanadi Coalfields Limited has threatened to stop supply to Talcher power plant (Odisha) as well,” said Yadav, the energy minister.

Bihar today received 776MW from the central sector against the scheduled 1,835MW. The minister added that the state was getting an additional 292MW from Damodar Valley Corporation and M/s Adani, taking the total availability to 1,068MW. Of it, the state has to provide 350MW to essential services such as railways, defence, airports, tourist circuits and others.

Yadav said: “The total power availability is 1,068MW. It is difficult to provide power to even essential services. Energy is being supplied on rotational basis. Until the Union government solves the problem, the energy crisis will remain.”

He said he had tried to speak to the Union coal minister but had failed.

According to Prasant Kumar Mohapatra, the general manager (in-charge), NTPC-Kahalgaon, Lalmatiya coal pits stopped supply from the night of March 31. “ECL hardly cares about the quality and we often get sub-standard coal mixed with soil and stones. After the lab examination, we decide on payments. But the ECL management was not ready to accept our clause. Since we had incurred heavy losses owing to poor quality of coal supplied from Lalmatiya, we objected this time and decided to make payments according to the test results,” Prasant said.

NTPC’s practice of checking the quality of coal was started from November 1, 2012. Sources said the Centre had formed a team consisting of members of Central Electricity Authority and Central Fuel Research Institute for checking the quality and the quantity of coal.


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