NTPC Talcher plant hit by transport bottlenecks, inadequate coal supply

Kolkata: Transport bottlenecks and a shortfall in coal supply from the mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) has hit hard electricity generation at NTPC’s super thermal power plant at Kanhia, Talcher in Odisha, according to informed sources.

The Kanhia plant gets coal from MCL’s Lingaraj mines, partly by the MGR (merry-go-round) route, a closed-circuit dedicated movement outside the railway system, and partly through railway rakes. For whatever reasons, the new MGR system is yet to start operation although the trial run was successfully completed two weeks ago.

The availability of railway rakes depends on the indents placed by MCL with the Railways. It is claimed that against a capacity to handle 24 rakes a day, NTPC handles just 13 rakes a day — the number of indents placed by MCL with the Railways.

There is another problem. Last year, the rakes placed at Lingaraj mines were detained for six to seven hours on an average, the maximum detention being for 12 hours 40 minutes in March. In the first week of April, the average detention period was 11 hours, the maximum being more than 14 hours on April 2. The Director of Rail Movement, Railway Board, had approved placement of 1,334 rakes in 2012-13 for transportation of coal from the mines to the Talcher Kanhia plant; in reality only 1,047 rakes were placed in line with the indents placed by MCL.

Between April 1 and 5, the shortfall in coal was estimated at 30,000 tonnes, the supply being around 2,10,000 tonnes against the requirement of 2,40,000 tonnes. As a result, the shutdown of one 500 MW unit continued and generation dropped by 110 million units.

In 2012-13, the shortfall was around 2.2 million tonnes, the actual supply being around 15.1 million tonnes (mt) against the requirement of 17.3 mt. No wonder generation dropped by 2,450 million units during the year, add the sources.