The coal ministry has decided to use laboratories to test the quality of the commodity supplied by Coal India to power producers.
Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research would select and appoint government laboratories and/or National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-accredited laboratories for sampling.
The testing model would be the same as that of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), wherein accredited private agencies can be hired for sampling and testing. “There have been instances that there were disputes over the quality and grade of coal. With this transparent process, we aim to design a standard operating procedure for testing and sampling quality of coal,” said Anil Swarup, coal secretary.
“The representatives of the power plant and the coal company would be allowed to jointly witness the sampling process at the loading end,” Swarup said.
The step was taken to resolve disputes on the quality of coal supplied by Coal India to power producers. Several complaints were lodged against the quality of supplies from Coal India and its subsidiaries. State-owned power generator NTPC had in 2013 complained of 30 per cent of adulteration in the coal supplied to its power plants. The government had set up an inter-ministerial committee to resolve such disputes but without any success. Swarup said the committee would continue to look into past cases. The Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, he said, would make public a list of third-party agencies or independent samplers in a month.
The fees of the third-party sampler would be borne by the coal company (supplier) and the power utility (consumer). “The new procedure would be over within 18 days and there would be a provision of cross-checking by the either of the parties,” said Swarup.
To ease the new process, a committee has been formed under the director (operations) of NTPC and the director (marketing) of Coal India. The committee will have representation from state power utilities, the Association of Power Producers and the railways.
Bridge linkage for mine-owning states
The ministry of coal has decided to grant tapering coal linkages to states or state utilities owning coal blocks where production has not started. The move comes as a relief to the states that were allocated operational but yet-to-produce coal blocks through e-auction earlier this year.
The linkage from Coal India mines would be for three years. The linkage would be given only to those states where the development of coal blocks would take time.
The coal ministry said this ‘bridge linkage’ would act as short-term linkages to bridge the gap between the requirement of coal by a power plant and the start of production from the linked coal block. One tapering linkage has already been granted to NTPC’s Ramagundam power plant in Telangana.