A multi-modal system of transporting coal to the State-run power stations in the south, is being explored in a bid to ease the pressure on the railways on the one hand while improving fuel-supplies to power plants.
Coal India Chairman, who maintains that offtake is as important as output for CIL, has already held a meeting earlier this week in Hyderabad with top officials of five State-owned utilities.
These utilities now source their coal from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. (MCL), headquartered in Bhubaneswar in Odisha. MCL, the youngest of CIL’s subsidiaries is among the biggest producers for CIL and alongwith South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. is set to play a pivotal role in CIL’s quest of producing one billion tonnes by 2019-20. However, congestion in the rail links is a major obstacle. Officials said MCL has had to cut back production due to logistic problems. The entire coal movement here is through the Howrah-Mumbai track, which is seen as a limiting factor in enhanced coal movement. Now, CIL is planning to adopt a two-pronged approach to address the issue. First, it is offering to link these generation companies with three alternative CIL subsidiaries — Eastern Coalfields Ltd., Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. and Central Coalfields Ltd. This is being done both with an eye on tapping available rail routes on Eastern Railway and ports at Haldia and Dhamra. The empty wagons travelling to these ports could carry the coal and return with other cargo for optimal utilisation of existing resources. Senior management of Railways and CIL present at the meeting dispelled concerns voiced by the Gencos that coal thus moved would be costlier than imported coal of the same grade.