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Power engineers oppose coal imports as minister says no shortage

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NEW DELHI: The All India Power Engineers Federation has questioned compulsory coal imports by generation companies and sought PM Narendra Modi’s intervention for withdrawal of the power ministry’s directive for 10% blending with imported coal, even as fuel inventories at 54 power plants remain critical.
In a letter to the PM, federation chief Shailendra Dube has pointed out coal minister Prahlad Joshi’s statement in the Rajya Sabha that “there is no coal shortage in the country” and says compulsory blending of domestic coal with costlier imported fuel will raise consumer tariff.
Replying to a question on “shortage of coal production” by BJP’s Rajya Sabha member C M Ramesh, Joshi had on Monday informed the House that there was no shortage and production in the current financial year was up 31% till 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 said missed the point that the reply was specific to the question on domestic production.
The power ministry had in December ordered states and gencos to import coal for 10% blending to ease the situation after fuel inventories at power plants ran critically low as a surge in power demand stretched the rail transportation infrastructure.
Blending with imported coal, which can replace 2.5 times domestic coal by volume due to higher heating capacity, was expected to reduce demand for domestic coal. The imports are also needed to quickly ramp up fuel inventories at power plants in preparation for heavy monsoon rains when supplies are hit as mines get inundated.
The government has mandated Coal India Ltd to import more than 8 million tonnes of coal on behalf of gencos and state utilities. NTPC, India’s largest power producer, is importing coal separately.



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