Power producers in western and northern states are using rail-sea-rail (RSR) route to get their coal supplies from eastern India to avoid rail congestion and also to reduce coal imports, an official in the coal ministry said.
“We have coal in Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL). On an average, three rakes per day is being transported on RSR route. We intend to increase it to 12-15 rakes per day to ensure availability and reduce import dependence,” he said. The three ministries of coal, power and railways are jointly guiding the gencos to develop their capacity of rail-sea-rail movement so that coal from relatively congested areas in Chhattisgarh and Odisha can be made available. “Railway evacuation infrastructure in Jharkhand is slightly developed. If power producers in west, north and southwest evacuate even 5-10% of their coal from Paradip port via sea route, availability will improve,” he said.
While the coastal route is expensive than the railways, he said coal procured through RSR still works out much cheaper than the imported coal. Typically, the cost of coal including transportation from Odish to Gujarat is around 4,700 per tonne, coal via RSR is7,000 per tonne and imported coal of same grade is about Rs 12,000 a tonne, the officer said. “In peak seasons when the coal requirement is high and dependence on coal imports increase, then coal from our mines can be transported through sea route and significant savings can be done for the nation as a whole.”
NTPC has started transporting coal from Paradip to two of its thermal power plants at Jhajjar in Haryana and Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. Bids for power plants in Kudgi in Karnataka and Unchahar in Uttar Pradesh are being finalised. Even Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra have also undertaken bids and are in different stages of approval. Whenever needed this additional capacity from MCL and South Eastern Coalfields (SECL) can be put to use, he said.
It may be noted that despite rise in domestic coal production, India’s thermal coal import bill shot up 78% from 70,669 crore in FY21 to1,25,746 crore in FY22, as per a ministry of coal statement earlier this month. However, Coal minister Pralhad Joshi last month said that India will be a coal surplus country in the next two years and will start exporting coal from 2025-26.The government is promoting more coal production and its wider application.(Courtesy: Financial Express)