NALCO should go innovative, beyond railmode to build-up coal stocks

Sambalpur: Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has sufficient coal stock of 16.5 million tonne available for dispatch to meet the current requirement of its consumers while the company has further augmented production activities to ensure adequate dry fuel is available in the country. 

The company, which had registered a record growth of 14% in production and 21% in despatch of coal during the last financial year 2021-22, has been successful in bridging the demand-supply gap of dry fuel in the country. 

In a section of the press yesterday (on Wednesday) it has appeared that NALCO (National Aluminum Company Limited) is facing acute shortage of coal, particularly at its Angul plant. It is therefore clarified that against a firm linkage of 47.

16 lakh tonne and a bridge linkage of around nine lakh tonne per annum for Angul plant, which translates to around 15,500 tonne per day, NALCO, Angul had been supplied 53.9 lakh tonne coal from MCL during the FY’22, against FSA, Bridge Linkage and E-Auction combined. 

NALCO, Angul, primarily takes coal from MCL through a dedicated MGR (Merry-Go-Round) system at Bharatpur Area in Talcher coalfields. Additionally they also have options to lift coal through rail mode, road mode as well as road-cum-MGR mode to supplement their supplies. 

The MGR system dedicated to NALCO, Angul, recorded an average despatch of only 5,900 a day during last fiscal. Considering the operational data of MGR system, which is 30-year-old and reports frequent breakdowns, MCL has proposed to take up for a major overhaul of MGR system to improve despatch if NALCO agrees for discontinuation of supplies from this system during the period of renovation and adopts any other mode of transportation, since Angul Plant is located at a distance of 20 kms from MCL’s mines. Being a pithead plant, NALCO, Angul should prioritize lifting of coal through MGR & Road mode. However, in FY 21-22, only three lakh tonne in Bridge Linkage was booked in road mode. Had NALCO booked via road mode the remaining six lakh tonne in Bridge Linkage and the shortfall quantity in FSA, sufficient coal stock would have been available at its Angul plant. 

 It is to reiterate that all the nonpower sector customers are being allocated coal up to the minimum committed level as per FSA (trigger level). However, MCL is offering 100% of Monthly Agreed Quantity (MAQ) of coal to NALCO under Bridge Linkage, as a special measure to specifically support NALCO. NALCO should also think innovatively to improve the lifting of coal from MCL, in view of rising demand of coal at national level and constraints in getting rakes beyond a certain level. 

During 2021-22, lifting of coal through road mode by NALCO Angul plant had dropped down to a daily average of less than 700 tonne while it had lifted up to 9000 tonne in a day on earlier occasions.Besides, MCL has also offered NALCO to lift coal through MGR wharfwall siding, which is lying unutilized and can help in transportation of 3,000 tonne coal per day. In view of low stock at many power houses and considering the availability of rakes, despatches via rail mode have been prioritized for power houses, especially the distant ones, where supply of coal through alternate modes is not feasible. Therefore, supplementing the shortfall in MGR lifting with rail mode should be avoided. However, MCL is ready to load rakes for NALCO, Angul as and when placed at our sidings. On an average, one rake per day was loaded for Angul plant in March 2022, in order to             supplement the MGR despatch. NALCO’s Damanjodi plant, located 700 kms from MCL mines, has a linkage of 10.2 lakh tonne, therefore primarily relies on Railway rakes for supply of coal. Due to our sustained effort and persuasion, an average of one rake per day could be loaded from MCL during February and March 2022, thereby meeting the requirement of the plant and achieving more than 100% supply materialization and liquidation of arrear. Moreover, during FY 21-22, the total supply to Damanjodi plant was 11.3 lakh tonne in FSA & e- auction combined. However, the supply materialization could have further augmented, had NALCO continued lifting some quantity under Road-cum-Rail (RCR) mode regularly. MCL has suggested NALCO to arrange for lifting coal via RCR for the Damanjodi plant to build stock considering the increased energy demand. As we have a long standing and collaborative relationship with NALCO, we are always ready to  explore possibilities to improve materialization by enhancing coal despatch to our esteemed consumers.