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Union Minister Piyush Goyal today said rapid rise in coal demand has led to a "feeling" that there are shortages, amid concerns about inadequate supply of the dry fuel. Goyal, who holds the portfolios of coal and railways, also asserted that both ministries are working together to ensure that no power plant is shut on account of fuel shortages.
Last month, the Delhi government had urged the Centre to direct the Railways to provide rakes for transporting coal to power plants in Delhi-NCR, which is facing "alarming level" of coal shortage.
"Asthe demand (for coal) is growing very rapidly in the last eight or nine months the so-called feeling of shortages has crept in. But the coal ministry and the Railways Ministry are working together to ensure that at no point of time anybody losing the ability to generate power for lack of availability of coal," Goyal said here.
The minister was addressing the media here on completion of four years of the BJP government at the Centre. Because of increase in demand of fossil fuel, the minister said, state-owned CIL has ramped up coal production very massively.
"As on March 31, 2017, there may be 68 or 69 million tonnes of stock. At the level ...we were worried that if there is a fire over there it would cause a massive loss. Post that there has been surge in demand which are now meeting both through enhanced production and enhanced dispatch," the minister said.
Stating that there has been a production growth of 15 per cent in the first two months of the ongoing fiscal, the minister said the Railways has also correspondingly ramped up its ability to transport dry fuel. The coal production which was 462 million tonnes (MT) in 2013-14 has increased to 567 MT in 2017-18.
"What used to happen in 7 0r 8 years has happened in four years. That is the speed with which we have been able to expand the output in coal....And all of this helped us to reduce the dependence on foreign currency utilised for import of coal. It has helped us to reduce the cost of power significantly," the minister explained.
"...it is a matter of happiness that there is more demand for coal and I will ensure that it can be met from domestic sources...," Goyal added. The minister also exuded confidence that going forward with the cooperation of the power, coal and railway ministries, the government will ensure adequate coal supply to the power plants across the country.
"So we have been able to meet the needs of the power plants both after reducing the imported coal, after reduction in hydro generation and with the increased power demand. To that extent, we are on the sound footing," Goyal explained. Going forward, the minister said that there would be robust demand for coal going forward.
With the closure of some of the import-based plants, the load increased on domestic coal, the minister said adding the output has been able to meet that demand. "Nowhere in the country have we heard of the power shutdown because of lack of coal."
Earlier last week, the Allahabad High Court had given a relief to stressed power projects which are facing threat of being pushed into insolvency proceedings.
Replying to a question on the matter, the minister said, "We had preliminary discussions about the Allahabad High Court order. And formal meeting will soon be convened by the banking sector along with the Association of Power Producers, Reserve Bank of India officials to consider the direction from the honourable Allahabad High Court and prepare a way forward."
The Court had said that no action be taken against these projects under the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) February 12 circular which mandates early detection and resolution of stressed assets till the finance ministry called a meeting of relevant stakeholders in June to see if the issues could be resolved.
Late last month, Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain had said that the coal stock at some power stations in the national capital region has dipped to an "alarming" level and if it is not replenished at the earliest, Delhi could be staring at "black-out" situations.
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