Easy coal for SMEs

E-commerce firm mjunction expects to facilitate the sale of around 0.9 million tonnes of coal to micro, small and medium enterprises through state-nominated agencies in Bengal, Maharashtra and Bihar.

By Pinak Ghosh in Calcutta
  • Published 12.03.18
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Calcutta: E-commerce firm mjunction expects to facilitate the sale of around 0.9 million tonnes of coal to micro, small and medium enterprises through state-nominated agencies in Bengal, Maharashtra and Bihar.

A joint venture firm of SAIL and Tata Steel, mjunction has bagged the electronic coal distribution contract of Bihar State Mining Corporation to set up an efficient and transparent mechanism to distribute coal to the MSMEs in the state.

It has rolled out similar frameworks in Bengal and Maharashtra and has facilitated annual sales of around 0.4 million tonnes of coal to MSMEs through the state nominated agencies - West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation and Maharashtra State Mining Corporation.

The company now hopes more states will follow an electronic distribution process to supply coal to the MSMEs and do away with the dependence on local agents.

Though the annual coal consumption cap of small units has been raised to 10,000 tonnes from 4,200 tonnes by amending the National Coal Distribution Policy, the offtake through this route has not been encouraging.

In 2016-17, Coal India had earmarked 7.9 million tonnes (mt), while actual allocation to the states was 4.35mt. In 2017-18, Coal India set aside 8.5mt and allocation has been around 4.9mt.

The MSMEs felt that lifting coal from the state agencies were inconvenient and there were difficulties in booking the order, delivery and refunds. There were also concerns over inflated prices while sourcing coal through traders and handling agents.

"It is not that there is a shortage in coal availability. But MSMEs often find it a challenge to procure coal on account of multiple issues. We have developed an electronic distribution algorithm and implemented it in three states by partnering the state nominated agencies," said mjunction CEO Vinaya Varma.<>"We are in initial discussion with other states. The e-platform would make it easy for the state agencies to manage coal distribution and eliminate dependency on handling agents. The consumers can have equal and fair opportunity to buy coal without manual intervention from their preferred collieries," Varma added.