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Coal supply shortage threatens four NTPC stations

With the State-run company’s Farakka, Talcher and Khalagaon units already on the coal shortage list for a long time, its Durgapur unit is a new addition

State-run power producer National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) continues to face serious coal supply shortage at four of its plants. Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has added NTPC’s Durgapur unit to the super-critical list of thermal power plants which are facing coal supply shortage. Usually, thermal power plants which have coal supply for less than four days are included in the super-critical list.

NTPC’s Farakka, Talcher and Kahalagaon units have been facing the same problem since the past few months.

According to the CEA website, as on 5 January 2010, Farakka and Kahalagaon were reported to have zero day coal supply. In addition, NTPC’s Talcher and Durgapur units had supplies for less than four days. 

CEA has cited delay in imports as the main reason for critical coal stocks at the Farakka, Kahalagaon and Talcher units and unloading constraints for the critical coal stock position at Durgapur.

Earlier, in its quarterly list published in September, CEA had listed NTPC’s six thermal power stations in the critical list. Out of these units, situation at three units has improved in December. However, for the rest of the units, coal supply remains to be in a critical stage.

NTPC’s Farakka, Khalagaon, Sipat, Badarpur, Tanda, Talcher and Vindhyachal stations were on the critical list in September, where these units had coal supply for less than seven days.

Although the Sipat, Badarpur, Tanda and Vindhyachal units have shown marginal improvement, coal supply at these units continues to be less than the normal required quota in terms of the number of days. Farakka, Talcher and Kahalagaon, on the other hand, continue to be in the super-critical list.

Based on the September data, Moneylife had sent a mail to NTPC. In a reply, an official said,” The coal situation has improved in all these mentioned stations so has the generation.”  However, the same official was not immediately available for comments on the new, updated data.

NTPC owns the Durgapur unit through a joint venture. The plant has a capacity of 120 megawatts (MW). The Talcher plant in Orissa has a capacity of 3,000MW and the Kahalagaon plant in Bihar has a capacity of 2,340MW.

During FY10, CEA expects NTPC's capacity addition to be 1.2 gigawatts (GW) against the company's target of 3.3GW. Until October 2009, NTPC had commissioned only 500MW at its Kahalgaon unit.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Chhattisgarh to set up a 4GW coal-based thermal power project (five 800MW units) at Lara in Raigarh district.

The company has been allotted the Talaipalli coal block in Chhattisgarh with minable reserves of 600 million tons. However, according to a recent review by CEA, the mining plan for the block has still not been approved.

During the 11th five-year plan period, NTPC had commissioned 3.2GW of capacity, and 17.9GW of capacity is under construction, including eight super-critical units of 660MW, and 3GW of projects are yet to be awarded.

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