Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today said his ministry is taking urgent steps to ensure coal supplies to power stations stabilise by month end or early October.
He was speaking at the annual convention of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) in Mumbai.
Goyal’s assurance came after IACC President N Srinivasan flagged the issue of the depleting stock of coal at power stations.
“Instead of buffer stock of 30-40 days, most of the power stations are having stock for 2-3 days,” a statement quoted Srinivasan as saying.
While promising that coal supply will be ramped up soon, Goyal said the ministry was regularising production for the last 18 months as power plants were not lifting the fuel because of its easier availability owing to all-time high record production.
He said the coal secretary had written to chief secretaries of all states urging them to impress upon power stations to start stocking coal but the plea fell on deaf ears.
The surge in demand for coal could be attributed to the fact that power supply from hydel, nuclear and other sources fell by 12 per cent, 36 per cent and 7 per cent respectively last month and as a result demand for power from thermal power plants rose substantially, he added.
He however said the shortage of coal stock at power stations augurs well as it will reignite the private investment.
Responding to another query from Srinivasan whether the government would restore the coal cess, which is subsumed under GST, Goyal said the coal cess was introduced with the twin objective of funding promotion of renewable energy and for fair pricing of coal-based energy generation.
While assuring that the importance given to renewable energy would continue vigorously, he said the introduction of GST is in the national interest and sectarian interests should be submerged in the large interest of the nation.
Goyal, who was recently given the charge of railway ministry also, said 100 per cent electrification of railways was his priority so that Rs 16,000 crore spent on diesel import every year for railways are saved.
The railways will focus to ramp up renewable energy considerably by utilising flexible light-weight solar panels on the rakes and stations, he said.
Goyal, who had a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis late last night, informed that he would come up with initiatives to rapidly scale up facilities for suburban railway commuters.
The minister harped on the need for improving the railway safety saying India needs to invest heavily in railway infrastructure to meet the decades-old backlog.