New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday urged the Union Power Minister RK Singh to review the decision of Government of India and allow 100% supply of coal to the state through Direct Rail Mode instead of existing Rail-Ship-Rail (RSR) mode.

The Chief Minister during a meeting with RK Singh here at his office on Friday said that Ministry of Power have asked State of Punjab to start lifting 15-20% domestic coal through Rail-Ship-Rail (RSR) mode from January 2023 from Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) /Talcher Mines. Bhagwant Mann said that Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) has coal linkage of 67.20 lakh MT with MCL/Talcher. He said that as per the advisory, about 12-13 Lakh MT is to be routed through RSR mode.

However, the Chief Minister lamented that transportation of this coal by RSR mode will result in massive increase in landed coal cost by about Rs. 1600 per MT thereby causing an additional financial burden of about Rs. 200 Crore every year. He said that the distance through train route between MCL and Punjab is around 1900 kms adding that by the proposed RSR Mode, train distance will be around 1700-1800 kms in addition to sea travel of around 4360 kms between Paradeep and Mundhra. Bhagwant Mann asserted that Punjab is located farthest from MCL hence transportation cost is 60% of the total landed coal cost.

The Chief Minister also rued that the relief in freight provided by the Railways to thermal power plants located beyond 1400 kms has not been extended after its expiry on December 31, 2021, which has resulted in sudden increase in railway freight. Bhagwant Mann asserted that due to multiple transportation and handling of coal through RSR mode, the Transit loss will increase from 0.8% to 1.4% besides deterioration in quality of coal adding that due to multiple transhipment, the total transportation time from loading at source (MCL) to unloading at power plant destination will be around 25 days instead of 4-5 days through rail route. He said that considering the above-mentioned concerns, transportation of domestic coal through the proposed RSR route is not fruitful for the thermal power plants of Punjab, as it will increase energy charges burden on people of Punjab adding that if there are infrastructure constraints on the part of Railways in placing adequate rakes for evacuation, then this burden should be shared equally by all States.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also raised the issue of appointing Member Power in BBMB from the quota of state with RK Singh. Both the leaders arrived at consensus for appointing the member at the earliest for streamlining the affairs in BBMB. They agreed that the entire process for appointment of the member will be completed soon.

Flagging another issue, the Chief Minister said that Coal production at Punjab state’s captive mine Pachhwara Central has commenced and this mine has sufficient surplus coal for transfer to TSPL after meeting requirement of State thermals and as such there may not be any requirement of imported coal for the power plants of Punjab in future. Bhagwant Mann asked the Union Minister to allow Punjab to use coal from its captive mine Pachhwara Central for both TSPL and Nabha Power Limited (NPL) without a 50% transfer limit and payment of royalty. He said that quality of Pachhwara coal is excellent, i.e. high GCV of 4300 Kcal/kg and low Ash Content of 29% against MCL coal which has low GCV of 3000 Kcal/kg and high Ash Content of 41%.

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