Government to commence 14 railway projects worth INR 22,067 crore to enhance coal transportation efficiency

14 railway projects worth Rs 22,067 crore are being undertaken towards increasing the efficiency and further enhancing the capacity of the coal evacuation process, a move that will help in reducing the time and cost incurred in the transportation of the dry fuel, the government said on Friday. 

On commencement of these project’s augmentation of the coal evacuation capacity of 410 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) is expected.

“The government endeavoring for a cleaner environment has placed great impetus to further develop rail transportation of coal.

“Fourteen railway projects are being undertaken towards increasing the efficiency and further enhancing the capacity of the coal evacuation process,” the coal ministry said in a statement.

Covering a distance of about 2,680 km, these projects will be spread across Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh.

The transportation of coal through railways will also provide better connectivity and reach as compared to road, which in the longer distances poses some of the major pitfalls and is detrimental to the environment and dents the coal miners pocket with the increased cost of transportation. 

Currently, Coal India Ltd (CIL) incurs about Rs 3,400 crore on transportation charges of coal.

Also, transportation of coal via road many times leads to accidents while passing through rural areas because of narrow and poorly maintained road structures.

Avoiding these hindrances, the government has planned to invest in alternative modes of transport, viz: rail, inland waterways, and coastal shipping-aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation of coal.

Creating transportation infrastructures and efficiently managing the logistics to transport coal from point of origin to consumption centers are major challenges for the sustainable development of the coal market. Important modes of transport of coal are rail, road, and the rail-cum-sea route and captive modes, such as merry-go-round (MGR) systems, conveyor belts, and ropeways, the statement said. 

Currently, coal is being transported majorly through railways, followed by road transportation and MGRs.

This project will solve the government’s challenge to reduce the logistics cost from the production center to the consumption center as it will make the transportation of coal from point of production to the point of consumption a hassle-free process. 

The investment amount to be infused by Coal India for the first-mile connectivity (FMC) projects is estimated at Rs 14,200 crore by 2023-24, in two phases for its 49 FMC projects, the statement added.

In addition to this, the CIL has also placed a rapid loading system in 19 of its mines to further increase the transportation of coal. 

CIL is constructing 21 additional railway sidings at an estimated investment of Rs 3,370 crore across four of its subsidiaries. These projects, which include greenfield (fresh) and brownfield (existing) ones, will be commissioned by 2023-24.

The sidings will add fillip to CIL’s first-mile connectivity efforts, acting as effective coal evacuation outlets. The company is aiming to move about 555 MT of coal per year through mechanized means by FY24.

The Ministry of Coal is aiming to develop the entire evacuation channel starting right from the mines by investing in the development of silos, CHPs going up to the last channel and developing the railway sidings, and constructing multiple railway lines to facilitate smooth movement of coal across the country.

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