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Bengal captive coal comfort

Cost check

Calcutta, March 2: West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL) is looking to raise the production of coal from its captive resources to reduce input cost and remain profitable at a time the state government is planning to cut power tariff.

WBPDCL chairman and managing director Durgadas Goswami said the company expected to start coal production from its Pachawara (North) block in Pakur district of Jharkhand by March after having received clearances in December.

“We are hoping that we will be able to start sourcing a rake of coal daily from the Pachawara (North) block by March,” Goswami told The Telegraph on the sidelines of a seminar of the Engineer’s Welfare Forum of WBPDCL here today. A rake contains about 3,700 tonnes of coal.

At present, the state power utility sources around 15 million tonnes, a major part of its annual requirement, through supply agreements with Coal India Ltd (CIL). Its expenditure on fuel increased almost 21 per cent in 2012-13 over the year-ago period. Only around 1.5 rakes of coal a day is sourced from its captive block Tara (East) in the Raniganj district of Bengal. WBPDCL had earlier decided to put coal imports on hold.

According to officials, increased output from captive sources is needed to strike a balance between lower tariff and remaining profitable. The coal will be relatively cheaper and of better quality than that of CIL.

The power utility is also looking to add capacity at Sagardighi this year, and a part of its coal requirement here can also be met through captive resources, officials said.

Tariff cut

Bengal power minister Manish Gupta, who was also present at the seminar, said the government was considering a reduction in power tariff for 2014-15. “I cannot say at this moment how much reduction in tariff could take place. A notice in this regard is being prepared and will come up within 10 days,” Gupta said.

The average tariff for power supplied by the state utility is Rs 5.93 per unit, excluding a government subsidy of 25 paise on every unit.

Gupta also urged the officials of the state production, transmission and distribution utilities to focus more on improving operational efficiency.

 
 
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