Maharashtra slams poor quality coal supply to power plants

October 14th, 2011 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) Maharashtra’s electricity producer Mahagenco Friday accused the Western Coalfields Ltd. of supplying sub-standard coal to its power plants which has resulted in the ongoing energy crisis gripping the state.

Locking horns with the WCL - a subsidiary of the Coal India Ltd (CIL) - Mahagenco managing director Subrat Ratho said that the gross calorific value (GCV) of the coal received at the state’s thermal power stations is only between 3,000-3,200 Kcal/kg.

“However, the boilers have been designed for an average 4,400 Kcal/Kg and the high ash percentage - nearly 45 percent - causes erosion of the boiler plants and other technical problems,” Ratho said.

He explained that under normal circumstances, the raw coal which is supplied by coal producers like the WCL is sent to “washeries” from where it comes to the thermal power stations.

“Often, we find the raw coal has stones, mud, lumpy coal or uncrushed coal, which also affects the coal handling plants. But WCL says that the good coal is segregated by the ‘washeries’,” Ratho said.

“Our demand is that WCL should give us the raw coal and we would pay for the washed coal. We also want them to permit joint sampling and testing of the raw coal at their own laboratories, but they are not agreeing to this,” Ratho lamented.

Indicating the mounting tensions, Ratho remarked: “Coal is controlled by all kinds of people. I would not like to say anything, but people call them the coal mafia.”

A top official of the Nagpur-based WCL had Friday pointed an accusing finger at Mahagenco claiming that barring two thermal power stations, all other stations held more than a week’s stock of coal to generate power.

The official of WCL had also dismissed allegations in some quarters of supplying poor quality coal to the state power stations.

Mahagenco’s current power generating capacity is 9,737 MW - of which the bulk 66.55 per cent (6,480 MW) — comes from thermal power, making it an extremely critical component of its total capacity.

Besides thermal power, Mahangenco generates 672 MW from gas-based power stations, and 2,858 MW from hydro power plants.

Its major thermal power plants are located at Koradi, Kaparkheda, Chandrapur, Bhusawal, Paras, Parli, and Nashik.

Currently, Mahagenco is able to produce only 3,600 MW from thermal power plants - and apprehends it may not achieve its target of producing 4,000 MW by the month-end.

The state continued to reel under power cuts for the sixth day Friday, when even the agriculture sector was brought under the power rationing regime.

Earlier, the authorities had imposed massive load-shedding in rural and urban areas, besides a weekly “power holiday” for industries and now also for the agriculture sector.

The power shortage has also resulted in disruptions of water supply to various cities which are now burdened with massive water cuts, both for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes.

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