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Shortage of coal rail rakes is threatening to derail power generation in Tamil Nadu.
With wind season coming to an end in a few days, Tangedco will have to depend only on its thermal units for power generation. But the present stock of coal will suffice only for six days.
State power minister P Thangamani as well as chief secretary Girija Vidyanathan have written letters to Union coal and railway minister Piyush Goyal as well as Railway Board chairman and Union coal secretary respectively seeking their intervention to get rakes for Tangedco.
“Normally, at any given point in time, we used to have coal inventory for not less than 2 weeks. But now, stocks in our thermal units have dwindled. While Tangedco is able to manage as we have wind power, NTPC units in Vallur and NTPL units in Tuticorin are hit because of coal shortage due to lack of rail rakes,” a senior Tangedco official told TOI.
Tangedco gets 75,000 tonnes of coal from Talcher and Ib Valley in Odisha, and Ranigunj and Singareni in Andhra Pradesh. “Movement of coal from the mines to the thermal units is becoming a major issue. We have stopped import of coal. Domestic coal is just not moving as planned due to shortage of rakes,” said the official. From Ib valley, Tangedco gets coal in the form of boulders. It has to be crushed before it is sent to the thermal units.
Last week, Thangamani wrote a letter to the Union minister asking for more rakes. “While the minister asked for improvement in railway movement, the chief secretary wanted the railway board chairman and coal secretary to help Tangedco get more rakes,” he said.
Two Tangedco teams are camping in Talcher to coordinate with coal and railway officials to ensure that the state discom gets coal in time. “We only hope the problems are solved before the end of the year because in the coming months power demand will be lower due to cool weather. But from January, the demand will start increasing,” said the official.
Railway officials who TOI spoke to said due to south east monsoon, coal from most of the mines in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh could not be evacuated. “Coal India seems to have taken it easy due to heavy rain. Their production was low. Now the coal evacuation has re-started, but railways is not able to cope with the demand,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.
Apart from the government-owned thermal units, many private units in north and central India are also facing coal shortage due to non-availability of rail rakes.
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