Power engineers oppose coal imports as minister says there is no shortage

NEW DELHI: The All India Power Engineers Federation questioned the obligation coal imports by the production companies and requested the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the withdrawal of the ministry of powerthe directive of a 10% blend with imported coal, even as fuel stocks in 54 power stations remain critical.
In a letter to the prime minister, the head of the federation, Shailendra Dube, highlighted Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi’s statement to the Rajya Sabha that “there is no coal shortage in the country” and argues that the mandatory blending of domestic coal with more expensive imported fuel will increase consumer tariffs.
Responding to a question on the “shortage of coal production” by CM Ramesh, a member of the BJP’s Rajya Sabha, Joshi had informed the House on Monday that there was no shortage and that production for the current financial year had increased by 31% until June.
Dubey’s argument against coal imports revolves around Joshi’s statement that “there is no shortage of coal in the country”, which government officials say missed the point that the response was specific to the question on domestic production.
The Department of Energy had in December ordered states and power plants to import coal at 10% to ease the situation after fuel inventories at power plants hit critical levels amid a surge in demand of electricity has stretched the rail transport infrastructure.
Blending with imported coal, which can replace household coal 2.5 times by volume due to higher heating capacity, was expected to reduce the demand for household coal. Imports are also needed to quickly increase fuel stocks at power stations in anticipation of heavy monsoon rains when supplies are hit when mines are flooded.
The government has commissioned Coal India Ltd to import over 8 million tonnes of coal on behalf of gencos and utilities. NTPC, India’s largest power producer, imports coal separately.
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