Neyveli Lignite needs to develop own coal resources

With adequate cash reserves, it is time NLC management starts to think in terms of developing its own coal resources by expansion through additionally imported, advanced equipment, and generate more power


Press reports show that the Neyveli Lignite Corp (NLC) held its 58th annual general meeting (AGM) in Chennai, when B Surinder Mohan, chairman and managing director explained to shareholders about various projects that were being undertaken by them.


These include projects in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, apart from its home state of Tamil Nadu. The projects range from 50 MW to 150 MW. He explained that, additionally, NLC is also looking up opportunities for development in acquiring assets abroad, in far off places like Australia, Indonesia and Mozambique.


Even for some of their projects, outside Tamil Nadu, where Neyveli Lignite is actively associated, ironically, they too face the shortage of coal and the imperative need to secure supplies. This would cover obtaining "clearances", as usual. The two major projects in the pipeline are the 1,000 MW plant at Tuticorin and its own plant at Sirkali for 4,000 MW.


In the last couple of days, TV channels have been reporting the precarious inventory conditions of the power plants in the country and almost 58 plants have hardly a weeks' supply. All the assurances that have been given, including the 58 million tonnes of stock pile at various places and pitheads, it would appear, have not come to the rescue. In fact, Coal India has not made any announcement about the action taken to move this coal by a "coal express" to these power generators.


It is a sad commentary on how this apex organisation is working, if at all. After all the "work" done to get the fuel supply agreements (FSAs) from various consumers, what is the net result? We need to hear from someone who is responsible and who can deliver the goods in such trying circumstances.


We now revert back to the work in progress in Neyveli's work in its own backyard.


According to the annual report, the new thermal power plant (2 x 500 MW), sanctioned by the union government in June 2011, is expected to be commissioned by October 2017 and April 2018, ‘as per current status’. It appears that BHEL has been given the contract for steam/ turbo generator package and the balance of the plant has been awarded to Essar Projects. Why not revisit this contract and seek earlier delivery of the equipment?


In the case of the coal block at Pachwara South, in Jharkhand (reserves 279 million tonnes), Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Ltd (CMPDI) is carrying out exploratory drilling. Ministry of Coal had, similarly, given Jilga Barpali in Chhattisgarh (546 mt) and these are in progress. In the case of the joint venture among NLC, Mahanadi Coalfields and Hindalco, the coal mining at Talabira, in Odisha is "awaiting" environmental clearance. Likewise, Bithnock Thermal power project, linked with the coal mine at Bithnok in Rajasthan, environmental clearance can be obtained only after forest clearance, for which, it seems necessary application has been made.


A study of the annual report indicates that, like all other organisations, NLC are also having the stumbling blocks for clearances of one or the other; land acquisition continues to be a problem where owners have been demanding jobs as well. Rehabilitation is very much part of the corporate social responsibility and NLC seems to have a fairly good record in this area.


With adequate cash reserves, it is time NLC management starts to think in terms of developing its own coal resources by expansion through additionally imported, advanced equipment, and generate more power so as to ensure adequate supply not only to Tamil Nadu, but to all other sister states in the South.


Such a move will reduce dependence on power being obtained from the Northern grid, which is now linked to the Southern grid, but will "release" the excess power that could be used elsewhere. For this purpose, if BHEL and other equipment suppliers are unable to bring their delivery forward, it is time NLC starts looking for secondary support sources of supply. Import the equipment, if necessary to avoid years of waiting time for domestic supply, unless other related work is time consuming to complete.


The time frame on all accounts- from conception to completion - must be brought down dramatically.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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Wilful Defaulter: Kingfisher Airlines says got stay against United Bank's decision
Kingfisher Airlines said it obtained a stay from Calcutta High Court against United Bank of India's decision to declare the carrier as 'wilful defaulter
Vijay Mallya-controlled Kingfisher Airlines on Wednesday said it obtained a stay from Calcutta High Court against United Bank of India's decision to declare the carrier as 'wilful defaulter'.
In a statement, Prakash Mirpur, Kingfisher Airlines’ vice-president for corporate communications, said the carrier has "secured a stay from the Calcutta High Court on the decision of the Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the United Bank, which had earlier declared the airline and its directors (including erstwhile directors) as wilful defaulters".
Last month, the Kolkata-based state-run Bank became the first lender to declare debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines and its promoter Vijay Mallya as wilful defaulters. The Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the bank has declared directors, Ravi Nedungadi, Anil Kumar Ganguly and Subash Gupte as wilful defaulters.
After that Kingfisher Airlines moved a special leave petition before the Supreme Court. However, the apex court refused to hear the petition. A bench comprising justices AR Dave and UU Lalit said, "Your (KFA's) grievance has been that the Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) should not decide the matter but they had already decided it, therefore your plea is infructuous". 
After the Supreme Court said that the plea has become infructuous, the airline counsel submitted that they would challenge the GRC order before the concerned High Court.


SEZs of Hindalco, Essar, Adani cancelled

According to the Commerce Ministry, nine developers of these SEZs have to refund the duty benefits availed by them


The Indian government has cancelled approvals of nine special economic zones (SEZs) citing unsatisfactory progress by the developers for executing of the projects. This includes SEZs of Hindalco Industries in Orissa, Essar Jamnagar SEZ Ltd and Adani Townships & Real Estate Company.


The decision was taken in the meeting of the Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher on 18th September.


In a statement, the Commerce Ministry said, "The Board noted that the progress made by the following developers/co-developers is not satisfactory. The Board, after deliberations, decided to cancel the formal approval/ notification/co—developer status, as the case may be, in nine cases.”


It said the developers have to refund the duty benefits availed by them. “The approval is subject to the Development Commissioner furnishing a certificate... that the developer has not availed any tax/ duty benefits under SEZ Act/Rules or has refunded any such benefits availed by it and subject to the state government furnishing it’s no objection certificate to the proposal,” it added.


Hindalco Industries had proposed to set up an aluminium product SEZ in Orissa. The formal approval to the developer was granted in July 2007. The developer was granted extension from time to time and the last extension granted expired on 31 December 2013.


Essar Jamnagar SEZ Ltd, which had proposed to set up a multi-product zone in Gujarat, got formal approval in August 2006. It was expired in August 2009. The developer did not make any request for further extension of approval.


Similarly, Adani Townships & Real Estate Company Ltd had proposed an IT/ITeS zone in Gujarat. The BoA granted formal approval in June 2007, which expired in June 2010.


The developer had reported that they could not proceed with the SEZ project due to adverse demand scenario from IT sector and accordingly they are not interested in perusing the project.


The other developers whose SEZs were cancelled include Chennai Business Park, Integrated Warehousing Kandla Project Development and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.


As per SEZ rules, formal approval is valid for a period of three years, by which time at least one unit has to commence production and the zone becomes operational from the date of commencement of such production.


Provision to this rule provides for extension of this formal approval by BoA, for which the developer will submit his application to the concerned DC, who shall, within 15 days, forward it to the Board with his recommendations.


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