Karnataka to face 12 lakh MT of coal shortage, says Shivakumar

Karnataka to face 12 lakh MT of coal shortage, says Shivakumar

Karnataka to face 12 lakh MT of coal shortage, says Shivakumar

The state government has started the process of importing coal to meet the severe shortage, Energy Minister D K Shivakumar said Friday.

"The government can directly import 35% of coal from overseas. The tender process has started. MSTC Limited, an autonomous body of the Centre, has come forward to take it up," the minister told reporters here.

Defending the move to import coal, Shivakumar pointed out that even Gujarat had purchased 25 lakh metric tonnes of coal from abroad. "We have been discussing the pros and cons of this. Our power units are equipped to handle foreign coal," he said.

Between April and December 2017, Karnataka was allocated 119.57 lakh metric tonnes of coal of which only 63.09 lakh metric tonnes was supplied, Shivakumar said. Further, between January and March 2018, Karnataka has estimated coal requirement at 55.07 lakh metric tonnes and expects 45.22 lakh metric tonnes, leaving the state with a shortfall of 12.88 lakh metric tonnes, the minister explained.

The Ballari Thermal Power Station has enough coal to last seven days, whereas the Raichur Thermal Power Station has coal for just one day. "As a precautionary measure, we have suspended operations in these power stations to stockpile coal. Water levels are being maintained in reservoirs to prevent load-shedding during summer, he added.

The minister accused the BJP-led Centre of meting out "step-motherly" treatment over coal allocation.

"Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and myself have tried to meet Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal several times. The government has written 55 letters seeking increase in coal supply," Shivakumar said. "Once, I went to see Goyal with an appointment. After waiting for more than an hour, I returned disappointed because he didn't meet me."

On Thursday, Goyal told the Lok Sabha that though the Ministry of Coal had allocated six coal mines to Karnataka, the state has not able to utilise it for the past two years as the government has dispute with the MDO (Mining Development Operator), a partner company of the state government.

He said coal supply for Karnataka through Coal India has consistently increased in 2016-17.

"Despite our persuading the state of Karnataka to accept more and more coal, they regulated the coal supply because they had sufficient stocks. In 2017-18, we supplied more coal so far than what was supplied last year. The increase is about 2.3%," Goyal said.

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