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Coal, power talks with CM

Calcutta, July 19: Union power and coal minister Piyush Goyal today met Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna for about half an hour and apparently discussed a host of issues related to boosting the two sectors in Bengal.

“It was a courtesy call to the Bengal chief minister. As I am in the city to meet Coal India officials after assuming office, protocol demands I should also pay a courtesy visit to Mamataji,” Goyal said before leaving Nabanna.

Sources said issues such as coal supply, strengthening hydro-electric power generation and rural electrification were discussed. “The chief minister did most of the talking while Goyal listened keenly,” a source said.

“The chief minister requested Goyal to ensure good quality and quantity of coal for thermal power plants at reasonable rates. Goyal said he would look into the matter,” he added.

A Bengal power department official said that during the peak summer and monsoon seasons, the state often got “poor quality coal” from Coal India. “The central agency often fails to meet the state’s demand during the peak season, resulting in high production costs and erratic power generation,” he said.

Nabanna officials said the West Bengal Power Supply Development Corporation had lodged complaints with the Competition Commission of India against Coal India.

“The chief minister told Goyal that he should take note of this and initiate steps to ensure that the state got good quality coal and the supply remained smooth during the peak season,” the official said.

“The chief minister made it clear that any hike in power tariff because of Coal India’s faults would be unacceptable,” the official added.

Mamata, the sources said, requested Goyal for central assistance in augmenting the state’s hydro-electric generation capacity.

“Goyal complimented the chief minister for her focus on rural electrification and assured her of central assistance in ensuring the reach of electricity to the remotest parts of the state,” a source said.