BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will help India’s largest power generation utility, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), to use its technology to reduce pilferage of coal when transporting them on wagons on railway tracks.
Following the successful pilot project undertaken by ISRO on one such coal wagon train through its NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) or Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, NTPC wants to incorporate this on a permanent basis. This seven-satellite system aims at providing India a satellite system so that it becomes independent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the US.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan told The New Indian Express, “We will be inking an agreement very shortly with NTPC to provide this facility for their coal wagons. This will help them understand exactly where and by whom the pilferage is done.”
The problem of coal being stolen has been a perennial problem with NTPC, particularly in areas in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Many police cases have been booked in these states for coal thefts by unknown persons. Despite Railway Protection Force personnel providing security, the large numbers who come to take away the coal when stoppages occur far outnumber the security provided.
The pilot done by ISRO on one train heading to West Bengal for nearly a year by attaching a NavIC system onto the wagon revealed where exactly the train had an unscheduled stop and the number of minutes it halted too. A video will also be provided in future in the system such that the pilferage operation can be clearly captured on camera. All of these will be tiny devices,” Sivan said.
The issue of coal thefts plagues energy companies in the Eastern part of the country with a coal mafia said to rule roost. Coal is stolen enroute as well as when loading them. The largest state-owned producer of coal, Coal India Limited has deployed vehicle tracking systems and GPS at its mines to handle the issue. Some companies have applied for permission to use drones to tackle the menace.NavIC Systems are now being deployed across different spheres.”We are also trying to help out fishermen to help them in their work,” he said.