Coal India Ltd. (CIL) hopes to put in place a system of third party sampling of coal quality by August, 2013, according to Chairman S Narsing Rao.

Talking to the media after a briefing on CIL’s physical performance in 2012-13, he said that the notice inviting tenders (NITs) for this was issued a fortnight ago. “We hope to appoint for all the power producers, a system of international consultants acting as third party samplers for sampling and analysing coal,” he told The Hindu, adding that this was expected to cost CIL around Rs. 20 crore annually.

The sampling would be done at the loading-end as is current practice.

The move comes at a time when an ugly spat has broken out between two of the country’s largest PSUs—CIL and its biggest customer, NTPC.

The core issue was NTPC’s holding back of payments, on account of what it described as supply of poor quality coal from the Rajmahal mines of CIL subsidiary Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL).

Two eastern region plants — Kahalgaon and Farakka — are tied to this mine. The dues mount to nearly Rs. 1,000 crore.

Pointing out that NTPC had stopped participating in the joint sampling, and had started arbitrary deduction, a senior CIL official said that a joint sampling done on April 6 had found that the coal was actually of higher grade than what had been contracted.