Commercial mining, rationalising coal linkages, ensuring better coordination between the Ministry of Coal and the Railway Ministry will be of top most priority now; says Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal.
NEW DELHI: Piyush Goyal – the new Union Minister of Railways, who also retains charge of the Coal Ministry, has assumed charge at a time when coal loading in trains is declining.
Coal loading, which accounts for almost half of the Indian Railways’ freight traffic, declined around 2% in April-July due to floods, poor transportation to rail sidings, closure of the Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway line and frequent disruption in movement of rail traffic for various reasons.
Freight accounts for almost 65% of the Railways’ revenues and helps it cross-subsidise passenger earnings.
Coal loading went down to 173.81 million tonnes in April-July from 176.81 million tonnes in the same period the previous year and against the target of 174.71 million tonnes. The decline in coal loading came at a time when the overall goods traffic rose 4.2% to 375.57 million tonnes in the first four months of this financial year.
“Due to floods, there were issues related to transportation of coal to rail sidings,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. He added that the Ministry had been holding regular meetings to discuss the issue with Coal India Limited.
The average time to load coal on trains has also gone up from the usual four hours. “Large rakes were detained for about five-six hours in some cases at sidings and this also affected the coal loading this year,” the official said.
Around 218 rakes per day were loaded in July as against a target of loading 244 rakes a day. “We have set a target of loading 239 rakes daily in the coming months,” the official said, adding that the Railways has additional rakes to load coal.
Experts said with Mr. Goyal coming in, the coordination between Coal and Railway Ministry will improve significantly. “The same Minister for both Coal and Railway Ministry will bring a lot of synergy and the required momentum. Also, the blame game would also cease between both the departments and issues can be resolved quickly,” former Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai said.
However, Mr. Sahai said that another challenge for Mr. Goyal would be to increase the freight basket for the Indian Railways and move beyond coal.
The Railways had initiated a detailed study of as many as 46 commodities to find out the potential sectors which can help increase the freight growth. Some of the areas included refrigerated goods, building material, horticulture, courier express and parcel, marble, glass among others. However, the Railways has not been able to move away from its dependency on coal as yet.
RK Singh to carry forward Goyal’s vision at Power Ministry, says ‘will continue Goyal’s good work’ of Piyush Goyal
RK Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), took charge of the Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Singh took over from now Cabinet Minister for Coal and Railways, Piyush Goyal.
Goyal also said that the International Solar Alliance will be a priority for the new Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Renewable Energy. The ISA will be launched on December 9 from Noida, Uttar Pradesh this year. Singh said that the country is now energy surplus and that the vision of the ministries has been defined by his predecessor.
Gujarat Member of Parliament Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary also took charge as the Minister of State for Coal.
Addressing journalists, Goyal said, “Commercial mining, rationalising coal linkages, ensuring better coordination between the Ministry of Coal and the Railway Ministry will be a priority of the Coal Ministry now.”
Power Minister RK Singh today said he would complete the ‘good work’ started by his predecessor Piyush Goyal and realise the vision of the Prime Minister, which includes reaching electricity to all homes across the country.
The government has been working to achieve the goals of 24X7 power for all, debt free efficient discoms, clean energy power capacity of 175 GW by 2022 and revival over 40 GW stressed power assets.
Singh assumed the charge of ministries of power and new & renewable energy after the Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday in which Goyal has taken over as Railway Minister.
“My efforts will be to meet his standards of performance, power ministry has earned good name for itself in last three years. We will maintain that and improve further,” Singh said after taking charge of the ministry here in the presence of Goyal.
He assured Goyal that the good work started by him will be completed and the Prime Minister’s vision will be realised.
“That is the determination which I give to this job,” Singh said, adding that Goyal will do as well in the Railways as he has done in the power ministry.
He added: “There is will be great turnaround in railways as well. He has done a great job here (in power and renewable energy ministries).”
Goyal said: “The power ministry team including officials and friends from media have supported me in the past three and half years.”
He told Singh that he has inherited the finest team in the government because everybody in the ministry and PSUs related to it, is charged and emotional.
Goyal said, “They (the officials in ministry as well as in its PSUs) want to cross limitless boundaries. The PSUs are very committed.”
On a lighter note he said, “It is my advice that please monitor all mobile applications of the power ministry in the morning amid tight scrutiny of the media.”
Talking about Singh, Goyal said that he has always been concerned about providing electricity to all homes and under his leadership now the power ministry will achieve new benchmarks of performance and targets.