NTPC to get back cancelled coal blocks in a week
n a major development for Maharatna power generator NTPC Ltd, the coal ministry is set to restore its five captive coal block allotments in a week. The blocks were cancelled earlier this year on grounds of delays. The move would boost the plans of the Rs 57,000-crore company to more than double generation capacity to 75,000 Mw by ramping up in-house coal production to 47 million tonne (mt) per annum, one-fourth of its coal requirement over the next five years.
The decision has been prompted by a mix of factors including an urgent need to bridge the burgeoning gap in coal demand and supply, firm commitment of rapid development of the blocks from NTPC, the huge investments already made by the company on power projects linked to the blocks, pressure from the power ministry for restoring the blocks and the recent coal supply crisis.
“NTPC has assured us of quicker development of blocks now. Also, there have been many requests from the power minister. We are likely to give the blocks back as soon as the report of the review committee is submitted in four-five days,” coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told Business Standard. He also added NTPC, being a government company, deserves preference in this matter.
An intra-ministerial review committee headed by coal secretary Alok Perti has been reviewing the ministry’s decision, taken in May this year, to cancel 14 coal blocks and one lignite block awarded to six public sector undertakings, including NTPC.
Apart from rejuvenating the company’s fuel securing strategy, the decision would also set at rest months of uncertainty over the progress of the government’s captive coal production plan, as NTPC’s blocks account for a major chunk of such reserves allotted so far.
The five cancelled blocks -— Chatti Bariatu, Chatti Bariatu (South), Kerandari, Brahmani and Chichiro Patsimal — have combined geological reserves exceeding 3 billion tonne (BT). The first three blocks are meant to supply fuel to two power plants of 1,320 Mw capacity each — Barh in Bihar and Tanda stage II in Uttar Pradesh. Both the projects, when commissioned, would require over 10 mt of coal annually. The other two blocks are meant to feed the expansion of Kahalgaon power project in Bihar and Farakka in West Bengal.