Coal India will ask power plants at short distances from coal mines to use trucks so that railway rakes are available for plants further away.
A transport bottleneck has caused coal stocks with 16 power plants to reach critical levels in mid-September.
An executive with Coal India said plants within 60 km of pitheads could transport coal by truck. “Railway freight costs are higher for short distances. Previously, there was a mix between rail and road transport for ferrying coal to nearby plants. Now, road transport will be given priority,” the executive added.
Railway wagons carry 4,000 tonnes of coal, while trucks carry 27 tonnes. Heavy-duty haulers can ferry up to 60 tonnes.
Another Coal India executive said railway freight accounted for 30 per cent of notified coal prices and transport by road over short distances would be cost effective.
“The evacuation capacity of the railways then can be used to feed coal to plants at longer distances. We have asked power plants to stock up to avoid criticality,” the executive added.
Against a normative stock requirement of 22 days, thermal power plants now have actual stocks of just six days. Coal stocks are considered critical when they dip to a week’s requirement.
The 1,240 megawatt (Mw) Kota power station in Rajasthan is being supplied 34 per cent of the annual contract quantity and the 1,500 MW Suratgarh power plant in the state is being supplied 14 per cent.
Five plants in the north, six in the west and four in the south face critical coal stocks. One plant in the east faces acute shortage.
Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar, after reviewing the power generation situation in the country, increased railway rake availability to 250 a day. Of these, 225 rakes are dedicated for power plants and will be positioned by the railways after consultation with Coal India.
“In addition, about 25 rakes per day are being moved to the power sector through private coal washeries and goods sheds,” a Coal India executive said.
Average rake loading from the beginning of this month rose 22 per cent to 197 rakes per day. Last month, Coal India’s rake loading averaged 173 rakes a day.
Coal production during first fortnight of September increased 12.4 per cent, year on year, to 18.30 million tonnes. Coal offtake during the same period rose 17.4 per cent, year on year, to 20.94 million tonnes.
Company executives said Coal India’s 33.44-million tonne pithead stock could be cleared by increased demand from power producers.
Coal India’s supplies to thermal power stations increased by 20 per cent, year on year, in August to 34.4 million tonnes. Plants generated 17 per cent more power, year-on-year, at 83,855.22 Mw. Read more
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