Patiala, May 4
The indebted Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) will have to spend more to procure imported coal to feed its thermal plants after the Union Power Ministry advised Punjab and other state utilities to import coal as Coal India Limited was unable to meet the growing demand.
Punjab may have to import 6 lakh tonnes of coal to meet the demand during the paddy season. It will cost the state more than Rs 15,000 per tonne.
The Power Ministry suggested to all state utilities to ensure that foreign sellers deliver of 50 per cent of the allocated stock by June 30 and another 40 per cent by August and the remaining 10 per cent by October. The advisory comes in the wake of states demanding more coal to run their thermal units in the face of growing demand.
“The price of indigenous coal is around Rs 5,500 per tonne. Coal imported from Indonesia costs around $200 per tonne (Rs 15,000). Add another Rs 3,300 per tonne transportation charges from the seaport in Gujarat to Punjab. This will be ultimately borne by consumers,” claimed All-India Power Engineers Federation spokesperson VK Gupta.
“The minimum cost difference between domestic and imported coal will be about Rs 13,500 per tonne. Punjab will have to bear an extra expenditure of about Rs 800 crore if it imports all 6 lakh tonne of coal,” Gupta said.
A senior PSPCL official said that given the financial crunch, importing coal would be a tough proposition. “Though a couple of states have already floated tenders, we will soon take a call on this (to import coal and how much of it),” he added.
This year, the maximum power demand in Punjab is likely to cross 16,000 MW against last year’s demand for 15,000 MW, which the state had failed to meet.
CM Bhagwant Mann’s announcement of 300 free units per month to every household will add about Rs 2,000 crore to the annual electricity subsidy bill of the state government.
At present, PSPCL has a domestic subsidy bill of Rs 4,000 crore. With Mann’s announcement, the bill is expected to rise to Rs 6,000 crore. The government already owes Rs 7,000 crore to the corporation.
Rain to rescue
The power demand on Wednesday dipped from 9,000 MW to 6,800 MW following a brief spell of rain — a fall of more than 2,000 MW. As a result, a thermal unit each at Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar plants was closed, while three other units at Lehra Mohabbat and two at Ropar were functioning at a reduced load.
- 6 lakh tonnes coal needed to meet demand during paddy season
- Rs 15,000 per tonne cost of imported coal
- Rs 3,300 per tonne transportation charges from Gujarat to Punjab
Yet to take call
Given the financial crunch, importing coal will be a tough proposition. Though a couple of states have already floated tenders, we will soon take a call on this. — PSPCL official
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