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Imported coal scandal in PSEB
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
A storm of sorts is brewing among officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) following the failure of samples of imported coal worth several crores of rupees to meet the specifications fixed in the purchase order placed by the board authorities with a private company. “ It is a coal scandal worth several crores”, said a senior officer of the PSEB on condition of anonymity.

Sources said the Chief Engineer (Technical Audit and Inspection T A and I) had got the samples of the imported coal tested from the Shri Ram Institute of Industrial Research, Delhi, and these failed to meet the specifications stated in the purchase order placed with the private company.

In fact, the coal samples have failed to meet even the minimum level of quality with regard to the gross calorific value and grindability index of coal stated in the purchase order placed with the private company by the Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Coal Management, PSEB, on November 18 last year. The calorific value is the most important aspect as far as evaluating the quality of coal is concerned.

The PSEB had placed an order to import 4.42 lakh tonnes of coal worth Rs 220 crore for the Ropar Thermal plant and 2.72 lakh tonnes worth Rs 130 crore for the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant from China, with the private company.

About 1..80 lakh tonnes of such coal has arrived at the Ropar Plant and about 1.60 lakh tonnes has arrived at the Lehra Mohabbat plant. The sources said that in spite of the supply of substandard imported coal, the authorities of the PSEB had made a payment of Rs 65 crore to the private company for supplying coal to the Lehra Mohabbat plant. A payment of about Rs 60 crore has been made at the Ropar thermal plant.

The Chief Engineer (T A and I) had intimated the results to the OSD, Coal Management and the Member (Generation) of the PSEB vide letter number 862-TACR-548, a copy of which is with The Tribune. This correspondent yesterday tried to contact the Chief Engineer ( T A and I) on the phone at Patiala for the official version but one of his staff members said that he had gone to attend a meeting at the PSEB head office.

Following reports that substandard imported coal is being supplied to the thermal plants of the PSEB, the Chief Engineer( TA and I) had got permission from the Chairman of the PSEB to get the coal samples tested from the Shri Ram institute, known for its credibility not only in this country but also abroad. Samples of coal were drawn by a committee of three senior executive engineers from the two thermal plants on August 18 and sent to the Institute for testing. The Institute has sent its test report of the samples to the PSEB.

In the case of the samples collected from the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant,the gross calorific value has been found to be only 6,190 calories per kg against the requirement of 6,800 calories per kg as per the purchase order. I is clearly in the order, stated that in case the value was found to be below 6,500 calories per kg, the coal was to be rejected and it “ shall” not be accepted by the PSEB. The hard grindability index in the case of the Lehra Mohabbat plant has been found to be 48 whereas it should have been 50 to 55, and not less than 50 in any case. And in the case of the Ropar thermal plant the gross calorific value has been found to be only 6,120 calories per kg against the requirement of 6,800 calories per kg. Coal below a specification of 6500 calories per kg was not to be accepted in any case at the Ropar plant.

The hard grindability index of the samples of coal collected from the Ropar plant has been found to be 59 whereas as per the purchase order the specification was notless than 50 and not more than 55 in any case. The Sulphur content in the Ropar plant coal has been found to be 0.83 per cent and it is above the maximum limit of 0.8 per cent stated in the purchase order.

The sources said that now samples of coal had been sent to the National Thermal Power Corporation Laboratories for retesting. The PSEB has its own labs at all the thermal plants to test the quality of coal. A question being raised in the top echelons of the PSEB is why the coal’s sample of which failed to meet the standards fixed in the purchase order, was not rejected.

The sources said the Chief Engineer( T A and I) had issued instructions to the chief engineers of both thermal plants to get sampling done of each rake of coal at the labs of the thermal plants concerned besides at the Shri Ram institute and the NTPC.



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