Punjab CM suggests 100% rail transport for coal from Odisha

In an appeal to the Union Minister RK Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab Bhagwant Mann asked for coal to be transported to the state completely via the rail network. As of now, the Rail-Ship-Rail (RSR) model is used to bring in coal to Punjab from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) in Odisha. Mann stressed on 100% switch to rail network citing the savings on quality, duration and cost, while transporting coal.

MCL produces G8-G15 grade non-coking coal from its mines located in Talcher Coalfield, Odisha and other mines located in lb coalfield spread over the Districts of Jharsuguda & Sundergarh in Odisha. The Union Ministry of Power has asked Punjab to start lifting 15-20 percent (12-13 lakh MT) domestic coal through R-S-R mode from Talcher Mines starting January 2023. The Talwandi Sabo Power Limited in Punjab has coal linkage of 67.20 lakh MT with MCL/Talcher.

With the recent Draft National Coal Logistics Policy 2022, the Government is trying to create an ideal and optimal infrastructure for coal transportation, and develop efficient, eco-friendly multi-modal integrated ‘National Coal Evacuation Infrastructure’. Additionally, the Gati Shakti National Masterplan and the National Logistics Policy, 2022 have also been designed to work in that direction.

In what could be counted in support of the NCLP objectives, Mann suggested that moving coal by R-S-R mode will add on to the cost by almost INR 1,600 per MT i.e. around INR 200 crore per year. This is because coal movement via R-S-R will mean crossing an extended distance of 1700-1800 kms in addition to around 4360 kms on water between Paradeep and Mundhra ports. On the contrary, he said, that travelling via rail will have the coal being transported over 1,900 kms only.

It should be noted that moving on the R-S-R mode will mean thrice the increased handling instances and locations. This would surely have an impact on the quality of the coal that ultimately reaches the final destination, while adding on to the total time taken from first point loading to last point unloading. On one hand, the transit loss will increase from 0.8% to 1.4%, and total time will increase from under a week to around 3 weeks. Punjab is located farthest from MCL, making transportation cost around 60% of the total landed coal cost.

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