PM to review power, coal projects; convenes meeting on May 19

PM to review power, coal projects; convenes meeting on May 19

"The meeting will be held on Thursday (May 19) to assess the progress made in the first four years of the current Plan and resolve the differences among the ministries," a senior Coal Ministry official said.

This will include the power capacity addition targets achieved between 2007-08 and 2010-11 and projects stranded due to coal shortages and environment clearance, the official said.

The meeting, to be chaired by Singh, will be attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The official said that "an assessment will also be made for the actual requirements of Power, Coal and other ministries for the terminal year (2011-12) of the current Plan and next Five-Year Plan in the meeting."

According to an estimate made by the Planning Commission, the demand-supply gap for coal in the ongoing year, which is also the terminal year of current Five-Year Plan, has been assessed at 142 million tonnes (MT) with domestic availability of only 554 MT against the requirement of 696 MT.

However, the Coal Ministry feels that the 'no-go' policy of Environment Ministry, under which mining in 203 coal blocks is not allowed, has been the major reason for increase in coal shortages.

According to the Coal Ministry, the 'no go' mining diktat has affected a potential production of 660 MT of coal per annum.

"Prime Minister has shown serious concern that the country's growth should not be hampered and at the same time issues raised by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) are also resolved," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said last week.
The Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is already on the job to find a common ground between the MoEF on the one hand and coal, power and steel on the other.

The MoEF has stopped giving clearances for no-go areas on the ground that it would destroy forests. However, the ministries of coal, power and steel want relaxation in the green norms, arguing that their strict enforcement would hurt energy generation and economic growth.

According to the Planning Commission, country's coal shortage may soar to 200 MT by 2017 against 142 MT by 2012, as the demand for fossil-fuel by 2016-17 has been projected at 1,000 MT against a production of 800 MT.

Against this backdrop, the Power Ministry has projected that more than 40,000 MW new power generation capacity will be left stranded due to shortage of coal in the next Plan as most of the new power plants are being planned to be run on coal.

On the other hand, the government is keen that the country should achieve an annual GDP growth of 9-9.5 per cent in next five years and an additional power generation capacity of 75,000-1,00,000 MW is being planned to meet the needs during the 12th Plan period.

The high-level meeting will also review the performance of the Power Ministry, which is already struggling to meet the capacity addition targets of current plan.

During the mid-term review of the current plan, the Planning Commission had scaled down the target to 62,000 MW against the originally envisaged target of 78,700 MW.
However, going by the trends, the ministry is unlikely to achieve even the revised targets and the actual new power capacity addition is expected to be about 51,000 MW during the current plan, a source said.

The capacity addition in the first four years of the 11th Plan ending March 31, 2012, stood at 34,462 MW and for the ongoing year, the Power Ministry is expecting to add about 17,196 MW new capacity, the source added.