Friday, August 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CIL halts coal supply to PSEB
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
Creditors seem to have lost patience with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), with Coal India Limited discontinuing the loading of coal to the board's thermal projects from its mines.

According to information available with The Tribune, a letter to this effect has been received by the board. Coal India Limited (CIL) has told the Board that it was discontinuing further loading of coal due to lack of payment due, which is nearly Rs 100 crore. Subsidiaries of CIL supply coal to the board's thermal plants.

This effectively means that the PSEB will get only that coal which is in the pipeline. After that, the coal supply will come to a halt unless the board coughs up the money due to Coal India Limited.

This is for the first time that the company has actually stopped fresh loading of coal after a number of warnings.

The coal supply to the board is likely to slacken. Yesterday, the Ropar thermal plant received only six rakes, the Lehra plant one rake and no rake being received at all at Bathinda. Under normal circumstances, the Ropar plant receives six rakes everyday and the Lehra and Bathinda plants two rakes each.

Sources said at present, the Ropar plant had a stock of 2.25 lakh tonnes of coal which is sufficient for 17 days. The Lehra plant has a stock of 1.46 lakh tonnes which is sufficient for 21 days and the Bathinda plant a stock of 93,000 tonnes which is sufficient for 13 days.

The board is likely to take up the matter at the highest level and also project the further distress in which it would be put if more creditors follow suit.

The board, which totted up a debt of Rs 795 crore till March 31 is in no better position at present, with its debt standing at Rs 765 crore. While it owes Rs 98 crore to the oil companies, it owes Rs 157 crore to the Railways on account of freight charges on coal, Rs 380 crore on power purchase and Rs 130 crore on supplier bills.

The sources said the board management is likely to stress upon the Punjab Government as well as the Union Power Secretary who is slated to preside over a meeting of the board here tomorrow, to give it some relief. It is likely to project the fact that it lost revenue because it had to purchase additional power from Central agencies to provide power to the farming sector due to drought-like conditions prevailing in the state following the failure of the monsoon.

It is likely to emphasise that it is in a worse condition now than on March 31 last because it has also lost revenue by providing regular power to the farming sector free of cost by imposing cuts on the industrial and domestic sectors.

Meanwhile, even as the board does not have funds to pay the coal companies and its other creditors, the Chief Minister today while talking to newsmen here clearly stated that the government was not in a position to give any additional funds to the board. Though sources said the thermal supply was good enough for a fortnight, the effect of the present discontinuation in loading would be felt even after the board paid up its dues to CIL because it would take four to five days for the coal supplies to reach Punjab.


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