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State’s industries suffer from acute coal scarcity

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State’s industries suffer from acute coal scarcity

Sunday, 09 December 2018 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR

Industries in Odisha are facing serious shortage of coal which affects the operations of many captive power plants (CPPs). Unless the issue is addressed forthwith, it would hit the future of many major stakeholders, ultimately affecting the overall industrial growth under the long-term vision of Make in Odisha.

This concern was highlighted by industry leaders at a workshop on ‘Dialogue for Coal Security for Odisha-Based Industries’ organised by the Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) here on Friday.

UCCI president Ramesh Mahapatra set the context of the event by deliberating on the demand-supply gap in coal. He said, “Odisha is one of the largest coal-producing States. However, it is unfortunate that our own coal-based industries are not getting priority in our own land. It is a serious concern for all of us; and we should take up the issue at appropriate forums at the State and national levels with the help of the key stakeholders.”

“We have already taken up the issue with the State Chief Secretary and requested the Government to intervene. For the larger benefit of our own industries, if required, the Utkal Chamber shall represent the issue with the Union Coal Minister,” he added.

Vedanta Limited CEO Abhijit Pati appreciated the UCCI’s initiative for giving the industries such a platform to deliberate on the issue. He said the vision of Make in India and Make in Odisha can be stellar successes when the industries, producers, manufacturers and MSMEs operate at their fullest potentials as they contribute largely to the exchequer as well as to the socioeconomic development of the State. “Due to coal scarcity, power plants are operating at 60-70% of their installed capacity which is ultimately hampering the interests of the State and the nation.

SS Upadhyaya from JSL raised the issue linked with transportation of coal to the designated plants. “Non-materialisation of rakes is worsening the coal crisis. Imported coal often lies stagnant at Paradip, Dhamra and other ports as there are no rakes to transport it. Industries are operating with coal inventory of as low as three-four days, which is extremely stressing for their operation,” he said.

If bigger industries are facing huge losses because of this, one can imagine the situation of MSMEs. Coal security of industries needs to be the priority for the State, he said.

A significant chunk of the companies participating in the workshop were captive power producers and major coal users across diverse industry sectors like primary aluminium, iron, steel, cement, paper, fertilisers, etc. Senior management executives and top brass of more than 20 of the State’s biggest business houses, producers and manufacturers like Vedanta, Nalco, JSL, Hindalco, Tata Sponge, JK Paper, Facor Power participated in the dialogue.

In fact, Odisha’s coal scenario today is quite paradoxical. Although the State is endowed with 24.52% of coal reserves and 15% of coal production in the country, the local industries have been striving for sustainability due to acute shortage in coal supplies.

The State’s total need is 80 million tonnes of coal, of which captive power producers need only nearly 40 MT for their consumption.

The Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) produces about 140 MT, which can cater to the needs of the local industries. But the reality is that the entire industrial fraternity requiring coal suffers due to the acute shortage of the key raw material as the supplies to the CPPs by the Coal India is only 12-13 MT, which is 30% of the requirement.

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