Thermal ventures worth Rs. 361.5 billion stalled while Modi launches new projects
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated two thermal power projects on Thursday in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. That news should be read along with the hard fact that 12 power projects worth Rs. 36,150 crore and with a total capacity of 7230-MegaWatt (MW) are already commissioned but are stranded because there is no coal supply. Around Rs. 5 crore investments is made per watt, for each of these projects. This information was given by MoS (Independent charge) for Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goel, in the Lok Sabha in July.
Modi inaugurated the the 1000-MW Mouda super thermal power project at Mouda in Nagpur and commenced work for 1980-MW North Karanpura super thermal power project at Ranchi in Jharkhand. The foundation stone for Mouda project was laid on February 2009 with a completion target of 43 months but it took 60 months to complete, with a total investment of Rs. 5,459 crore. The North Karanpura project was cleared in February 2013 and it starts work from Thursday, one and a half years late. Many other thermal projects, especially in Maharashtra and owned by the Adani group, are stalled due to coal shortage. As many as 42% of these projects are located in Maharashtra, while the Adani Group is the owner of 25% of these projects. Furthermore, these 12 projects cost the exchequer around Rs. 36,150 crore. Power minister Goel had said that the government has asked Coal India to increase the production of coal in the country and make sufficient allocation to the power sector.
Coal India’s lack of technology and equipment deficiency is allegedly the cause for coal shortage along with delay in environment and railway clearances. In 2013-14, around 566 Million Tonnes (MT) of coal was produced in India, with Coal India and its subsidiaries accounting for 463 MT, which is around 82%. Furthermore, the supply of coal stood at 571 MT that means a gap of 6 MT. This shortage can be easily corrected if coal production escalates before commencing work for new projects.