Your officers gave you wrong info on what caused coal crisis: RK Singh tells Pralhad Joshi

  • Contrary to what your officers have told you, none of the major GENCOS were supplied the quantum of coal which they had indented, Singh said in the letter
  • We had projected the coal requirement of 446.4 MT. The actual consumption was 439.4 MT. But the supply from coal companies was only 418.80 MT, Singh said

New Delhi: In a stern letter to Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi, Union Power Minister RK Singh has alleged that Joshi’s “officers” have given him “wrong information” about what caused the acute coal crisis at thermal power plants (TPPs) earlier this year. Citing data collected from 22 major gencos, Singh has told Joshi that the orders placed by gencos was bigger than what was delivered by Coal India Ltd (CIL). “Your officers who told you that they had large stocks but the Gencos were not lifting gave wrong information. If they had the stock, why did they not load the rakes? They seem to have inflated the production figures. Proceedings need to be initiated against the concerned officers,” Singh told Joshi in a letter accessed by PSU Watch dated December 9.

Coal crisis: ‘No genco was supplied quantum of coal they had indented’

“We have checked up from the Generation Companies (GENCOS). Contrary to what your officers have told you, none of the major GENCOS were supplied the quantum of coal which they had indented. We have the data of 22 major GENCOS for the period April-October, 2021, which was the critical period. They had indented a total of 67,098 rakes out of which the coal companies endorsed to supply 55,155 rakes and the railways sanctioned 55,055 rakes but the actual coal supply from coal companies was 34,620 rakes only,” the Power Minister said in the letter.

The letter assumes significance because PSU Watch had reported on December 1 that Joshi had said in the Lok Sabha that at the end of FY21, coal stocks were at a record high at Coal India Ltd (CIL) mines and at lower levels in thermal power plants. Even though the minister did not pin the blame on any particular entity, but the statement was enough to convey that coal stocks were available with Coal India Ltd (CIL), but was not picked up by thermal power plants. However, now with Singh’s letter coming to light, the jury is again out on what actually caused the coal crisis. The allegation made by Singh about “officers” “inflating production figures” is serious in nature.

“We had assessed that the power generation from April to October, 2021 from coal based units shall be 649 Billion Units (BU). The actual generation was 642 BU. Accordingly, we had projected the coal requirement of 446.4 Million Tonnes (MT). The actual consumption was 439.4 MT. But the supply from coal companies was only 418.80 MT — a shortfall of 21 MT. This led to draw down in the stocks which dropped to a low of 7.24 MT on 08.10.2021,” Singh pointed out in the letter.

Corrective action required right now: RK Singh

While observing that power demand is going to increase again from March 2022 onwards, the minister said that he is “constrained” to point out that at a recent high-level meeting, the number of coal rakes that were promised to be dispatched daily is still not being supplied. “The coal crisis situation has been overcome for the present, and the average coal stocks at power plants have improved somewhat to 20.2 Million Tonnes (MT). However, this is only 10 days stock, whereas our revised stocking norms prescribe a reserve of 15 days at pithead and 24 days at non pithead stations,” said Singh.

“This is the time to take corrective action keeping in mind our past experience so as to avoid a recurrence of the crisis in future. The estimates of likely power required for the year 2021-22 and the resultant coal requirement were conveyed to the Ministry of Coal in April. These estimates were accurate,” Singh said. The minister added that unless coal companies dispatch rakes as promised, gencos will not be able to meet their stocking requirements.

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