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Assured of meeting coal requirements, says power minister RK Singh

Assured of meeting coal requirements, says power minister RK Singh
Power Minister RK Singh said the ministry was assured if adequate coal supplies by Coal India and that the power ministry's coal demands would be met.
He added that he was in regular touch with the ministry of coal and ministry of railways regarding the shortage of coal.
“In May, the average number of rakes which have been coming, have been 274, which is up from what it was earlier,” he said.
Demand has increased exponentially, Singh said, and added that the peak demand went up to 171 gigawatts and this was at a time when wind energy production was low.
He further added that the entire load was on coal fired power plants as the productions from hydro power generators was also low.
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Edited Excerpt:
Q: The burning question right now is the coal shortage. Thermal based power plants are at 196 gigawatt and if I understand correctly from sources that ministry of power has raised the issue of coal shortage and plant load factor is low at 65% overall for PSU, state and independent power producers, 50000 megawatt capacity is hit, what is happening, what have you heard from coal ministry?
A: We are in regular touch with the Ministry of Coal and the Ministry of Railways. In fact every day this planning happens, my officers and officers from the ministry of coal and railways, they talk every day.
In May the average number of rakes which have been coming have been 274 which is up from what it was earlier.
Right now our stocks are about 14.7 million tonnes. It is touch and go but even the demand has increased exponentially. The peak demand went up to 171 gigawatts and this was at a time when wind was low but now wind is becoming up.
This was at a time when hydro was also low. So, the entire load came on coal. However my officers and the officers of the coal ministry and ministry of railways, they are trying to make sure that coal reaches all those plants where the coal is required.
However as I said the demand has increased. Today our demand I think is about 7000-8000 megawatt more than the corresponding period last year. The growth has been about 6.1-6.2% which is a fairly good growth.
Q: Is there any assurance given by the rail minister or the coal ministry to increase production or increase rakes?
A: Yes. I in fact spoke to the CMDs of the different coal companies and by and large all of them have assured me that they will try and dispatch the rakes as per the target. So, we are in touch, this is an ongoing thing.
Q: You have been very vocal on the RBI circular which came in February this year. You said that it was impractical and not workable. You also hinted that one day delay in payment will lead to large number of assets to become non-performing assets. You pitched a year’s time for resolution for such NPA assets in the power sector. Where does it stand right now, how much is the capacity in the power sector under NPA right now?
A: In so far as the capacity which is stressed is concerned, and how to deal with it, we have had certain rounds of discussion. State Bank of India (SBI) has come out with a scheme called Samadhaan for taking care of these assets.
REC has come out with a scheme, so, we have had discussions on that. After those discussions, REC have refined that scheme and they have sent it to us. So we will have a look at it and then we will send it across to the ministry of finance. I have mentioned it to the finance minister.
Now what this will do is that this will ensure that the stressed assets are turned around in a more benign way and stressed assets will not be sold at value which is much less than what they should be getting. So let us see, we are working on it.
Q: Are you talking about the joint venture that you had spoken about in the past?
A: No, it is not really a joint venture. It is a scheme whereby assets which are functioning, which can be made functional, they are made to function, and once they start operating and selling power, etc. and the debt servicing starts, then after that we are certain that they can be brought on scheme. We are watching on it, once it is finalized, we will let you know.
Q: How much is the capacity that is being considered and what is the timeline you are working on?
A: As I said, we already have the detailed proposal before us after two rounds of discussion with the concerned people and that final proposal is now with us. We will send it to the ministry of finance and once they are okay with it, then again we will put it into operation and you will see something happening I think in about a months’ time.
Q: Both of these proposals will be taken up for consideration or one of the two will be taken up?
A: As far as the Samadhaan is concerned, we have had a look at it. That is the SBIs proposal we had a look at. We believe that is a good proposal. We have some suggestions on it which also we will be mentioning to ministry of finance and of course there is our proposal.
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