BHUBANESWAR: While Odisha is all set to scale new heights with an investment prospect that runs into crores of rupees, a single differentiating factor - lack of coal security - could dampen its objective.The irony here is that the State is endowed with 24.5 per cent of coal reserves and 15 per cent of coal production in the country. However, due to the prioritisation of coal supply to independent power producers, homegrown captive power plants (CPPs) with an aggregate capacity of 7,800 MW are saddled with acute coal shortage.
Of the total 40 million tonnes (MT) coal requirement by CPPs, supply by Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) stands as low as 13 MT which is 30 per cent of the requirement. “Due to coal scarcity, our power plants are operating at 60-70 per cent of their installed capacity,” said CEO of Vedanta Limited Abhijit Pati while addressing a workshop on ‘Dialogue for Coal Security for Odisha-based Industries,’ organised by Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UCCI) on Friday.
Despite several representations made to MCL and Railways, the coal supply position has not improved, alleged an official with metal producer. Forced to turn to imports, the official added that the input cost for CPPs has escalated by an additional `1,500 per tonne.Apart from inadequate supply, non-materialisation of rakes is worsening the coal crisis in the State, pointed out S S Upadhyaya of JSL, adding that imported coal often lies stagnant at Paradip, Dharma and other ports as there are no rakes to transport them. Most of the industries are operating with inventory as low as 3-4 days, which is extremely stressing for operation, he added.
President of UCCI Ramesh Mahapatra said industries in the State have been pressing their demand for adequate supply of the fuel for years now, but to no avail. “It is a serious concern and we have already taken up the issue with the Chief Secretary and requested the Government to address the crisis. For the larger benefit of our industries, UCCI will take up the issue with the Central Government if required,” he added.Officials of Nalco, JSL, Hindalco, JK Paper and Facor Po wer, who were present at the event, also raised similar concerns.