The All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) on Thursday demanded withdrawal of the power ministry's order extending coal imports till June 30, 2024, saying there is no shortage of the dry fuel in the country.
In an October 23 notification, the government asked imported coal-based power plants to operate at full capacity until June 30, 2024, amid a surge in electricity demand and inadequate domestic coal supplies.
Earlier, the directive was extended till October 31, 2023. The government in March this year issued the first directive under Section 11 of the Electricity Act to ISB (imported-coal based) plants.
AIPEF Chairman Shailendra Dubey demanded that the power ministry's directive be withdrawn and the more economic indigenous coal be utilized instead as there is no shortage of indigenous coal.
The body said if at all any coal is to be imported, the ministry should bear the extra cost of that coal since the more economic alternative of Indian coal was already available in stock at thermal power stations across the country.
It also alleged that extending the deadline is a clear attempt to provide business and profits to companies engaged in coal trading / coal import while loading the cost escalation due to import on the common electricity consumers.
On the other hand, it stated that Ministry of Coal has strongly contended that there is no shortage of coal, and the coal stock and supply position have vastly improved this year as compared to the previous year.
The data and statistics released by the coal ministry indicate that coal import was not justified, and coal stock on October 21, 2023 was 71.35 million tonne as against 60.44 million tonne last year.
Earlier this week, Ministry of Power issued an advisory to domestic coal based plants to increase ceiling of imported coal for blending from four per cent to six per cent.