Coal India’s production continues to rise on the back of better co-operation with coal-bearing states in acquiring land and faster forest and environment clearances obtained by the company in last the 12 months.
The PSU’s coal production recorded a 12% jump in the April-June quarter over the same period last fiscal. Its production had grown by more than 7% to 494 million tonnes (MT) for FY15, the highest growth in four-decades. This performance was a welcome departure from the nearly flat production growth of 3-4% recorded by the company over the previous five years.
The turnaround in production for this state-run behemoth has been grounded in its ability to negotiate purchase of land and environment clearances. In the last 12 months, the company has been able to acquire nearly 2,000 hectares of land contiguous with mines which has helped it start nearly one mine every month. Additionally, the miner also managed to secure 41 clearances related to forest and environment, an impediment that has significantly impacted CIL’s production in the past.
As per CIL’s internal report, the coal miner had 192 pending forest and environment related application at state and centre level for its 56 ongoing projects till August last year.
Due to pending clearances, the ongoing projects were only producing 130 MTPA as against a capacity of 271 MTPA. These pending approvals had also held back the company from taking possession of over 30,000 hectares of land crucial for mining at full potential.
“A team of top coal ministry officials has visited each coal-bearing states at least thrice to sort out issues as bulk of the land acquisition problems exist on the level of state governments. These visits and consultations with top officials from the respective state governments have borne results,” a top coal ministry official told FE. He added that coal ministry’s approach to solving seemingly intractable issues in acquiring land could well be a template for other ministries as well.
The increased production is also manifested in the coal-stock position of the thermal power plants. From a situation in June last year when nearly half of the 100 coal-based power plants had less than 8 days of coal or were in critical condition, the number of critical plants has reduced to just 4 on Wednesday (July 29), as per the data made public by the power sector planning wing Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
“On an average, the coal-based plants have 20 days stockpile of fuel and even with monsoon months looming when evacuation becomes a problem, we are comfortably placed to generate power,” the official added.
While CIL looks good to achieve the production target of 550 MT for FY 16, the more daunting challenge of achieving 1 billion tonnes production by 2019 would require 3 critical railway projects to enable evacuation of 300 million tonnes of coal.
Coal India along with Indian Railways and respective state governments in the coal-bearing states have finished the necessary paperwork to form joint ventures (JVs).
The JVs have also identified nearly 60 railways siding projects, which are 10-15 km of tracks branching out from the main line, the official cited above said.
He added that one of the three lines – Jarsuguda-Barapalli in Odisha – will be operational by July 2016. The other two lines namely Tori-Shivpur-Kathotia in Jharkhand and Kharsia-Korichapar-Dharamjaigarh line in Chhatisgarh are expected to become operational by the end of 2017.