New Delhi: In the backdrop of a power crisis that is looming over India, the responsibility of preventing a power blackout lies solely on India's coal producing PSUs — Coal India Ltd (CIL) and its subsidiaries. As coal stocks deplete at thermal power plants (TPPs), CIL and its subsidiaries are ramping up coal production and ensuring consistent supplies to replenish inventories at TPPs. In the midst of stories talking of scarcity of coal stocks at TPPs, a heartening video has emerged from Western Coalfields Ltd's (WCL) Sasti opencast project (OCP) which evokes some positivity in an otherwise grim situation. It gives a glimpse of the odds that coal PSU employees are braving to ensure coal production.
The video shows K Raghuvir, a Chief Manager at WCL's Sasti OCP in Ballarpur, braving heavy rainfall to prevent a coal pump, which is used to remove rainwater from the coal face, from getting submerged in the rain. Had the pump not been removed in time, coal production in the mine would have suffered. The video has been viewed and shared multiple times among PSU employees.
The video is being shared by PSU Watch after getting it verified from WCL. According to an official spokesperson from the coal mining company, the video is of October 9 when Ballarpur, where the Sasti OCP is located, experienced heavy rainfall around 2 pm. "Raghuvir Sir, who at the time had just sat down to have lunch, was told that the coal pump is about to get submerged in rainwater. The pump getting submerged would have meant that it would have taken a lot of time to remove water from the coal face, which in turn would have impacted coal production," said the spokesperson.
None of the other employees could think of a way to remove the pump from the coal face in the heavy rainfall. Raghuvir, who is also in-charge of the coal face at WCL's Sasti OCP, decided that he would get the PC machine in the coal face and use it to remove the coal pump. The video shows Raghuvir descending down a mound to get the coal pump on the PC machine.
S Satyanarayana, a General Manager (Excavation) at WCL and a former colleague of Raghuvir, said that Raghuvir has in the past, too, showed exemplary capability in handling heavy machinery in tricky situations. "I was at Sasti OCM during 2014-2019 as Project Engineer (Excavation). During that period, we had many instances where HEMM, especially shovels and excavators, got stuck up in very bad and precarious conditions. I remember in one instance where one of the EKG shovel got stuck up and even after trying for two days, the excavation and OB production teams could not resolve the situation. I called K Raghuvir for some guidance as he has some exemplary capabilities in handling such situations. He visited the site and within hours we could put retrieve the shovel and put it in operation with his guidance," said Satyanarayana.
India is staring at a power crisis as coal stocks have depleted sharply at thermal power stations across the country on account of a sudden spurt in power demand. Because thermal power plants (TPPs) did not have sufficient coal stock to meet a sudden spurt in demand, the situation has led to low coal inventory at TPPs. According to the last batch of CEA data released, half of India's thermal power capacity had three or less than three days of coal stock as on October 7. India primarily relies on coal to meet its power demand.
Heavy rainfall in coal-producing areas is a major factor that has impacted coal production and transportation.