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Frequent disruptions at MCL mines taper stocks of Odisha's power plants

Data from the National Power Portal shows that NTPC's 3000 Mw super thermal power plant (STPS) at Kaniha lacks even a day's stock

Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar 

Coal mines, CoalCoal mines, Coal
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Recurring disruptions at coal mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) has dwindled stocks of key power producers in Odisha. Ltd, private producer GMR Ltd and state owned generator Generation Corporation Ltd (OPGC) are wrestling with diminishing coal inventory at their units.

Data from the National Power Portal shows that NTPC's 3000 Mw super thermal power plant (STPS) at Kaniha lacks even a day's stock. Another owned generating plant at Talcher Thermal in the vicinity of the STPS, has barely a day's stock. GMR Kamalanga, too, is reeling under coal crunch with stock drying to a day's level. Even the pit head plant of Generation Corporation (OPGC) at Ib valley where the state government owns a controlling stake, has only six days of coal stock.

An industry source said, the coal crisis of power producers in Odisha has amplified since the strata failure at Bharatpur open cast coal mining project of MCL in July this year. The mishap that triggered a landslide paralyzed coal production and despatches. Since that incident, power producers and other key coal consuming industries, notably aluminium smelters, have failed to build up coal stocks.

Of late, a stir at three open pit coal mining projects at Talcher Coalfields crippled coal output and supplies. Though the strike called by agitating villagers has been withdrawn, supplies have not reverted to normal.

For instance, Kaniha gets 38,000 tonnes of coal each against its normative requirement of 55,000 tonnes.

“All units of NTPC are running on partial load. Against our peak rated capacity of 3000 Mw, we are now generating 2100 Mw. But our coal stock position is appalling. If a fresh coal crisis erupts, we may be forced to import coal in the near future”, said a source familiar with the development.

The scenario is no less worrisome for aluminium producers in the state. State run National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is facing an acute coal crisis, receiving hardly 50 per cent of the coal supplies from MCL mines. Nalco wholly leans on MCL for coal supplies and is neither tapping other CIL subsidiaries to procure nor opting for imports to make good the shortfall. In a recent disclosure to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Nalco had informed that it was forced to shut out 80 electrolytic pots with the possibility of turning up to 227 pots offline if the coal crunch goes on unabated. Against its normative coal requirement of 17,000 tonnes per day, Nalco is getting only 8000-9000 tonnes from MCL. Three of Nalco’s Captive Power Plants (CPP) remains shut now with Nalco being compelled to purchase expensive power from the state grid.

First Published: Wed, October 23 2019. 18:23 IST
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