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Coal SOS goes to CM

B.N. Singh wrote a letter to Soren requesting him to initiate steps to revive the fuel supply agreement

By Praduman Choubey in Dhanbad

  • Published 18.01.20, 1:03 AM
  • Updated 18.01.20, 1:03 AM
Hard-coke factories in Dhanbad pinning hopes on the Hemant Soren government to come to their rescue
Hard-coke factories in Dhanbad pinning hopes on the Hemant Soren government to come to their rescue PTI

As many as 90 hard-coke factories in Dhanbad, which have been hit hard by Coal India’s decision to supply through e-auction only, are pinning hopes on the Hemant Soren-led government to come to their rescue.

B.N. Singh, president of Industries and Commerce Association, wrote a letter to the chief minister on Thursday, requesting him to initiate steps to revive the fuel supply agreement, under which high quality coal was being supplied to the hard coke factories by Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, a Coal India subsidiary, at a notified price till July last year.

“We will meet the chief minister after the appointment of all ministers and allotment of portfolios to them. We will request him to send a recommendation to the central government for the revival of the fuel supply agreement,” Singh, who himself owns a hard coke factory, told The Telegraph on Friday.

He said the delegation would also raise the issues of extortion in the garb of coal-loading charges by local goons and politicians and coal theft from dumping and loading sites.

“These have affected coal supply to the hard coke factories in Baghmara and Dhansar areas in Dhanbad for over eight months. The situation is so bad that around 10 factories have already closed down, while the existing 90 factories are operating at 25 per cent of their capacity,” Singh said.

He said if the problems were no addressed soon, all the factories would have to wrap up operations and more than 50,000 workers directly engaged in these facilities, besides 50,000 others indirectly eking out a living through coal transporting and loading, would be rendered jobless.

Hard coke is made from coal and has lesser impurities and high carbon content. Being an excellent source of heat, it is used in blast furnaces and boilers.

The hard coke factories were getting coal at a notified price from Coal India under the five-year fuel supply agreement from 2013-18, which was extended till June last year.

However, Coal India discontinued supply from July 2019 and asked factory owners to procure costlier coal via e-auction.

Under the agreement, Coal India was supposed to meet 75 per cent of the annual coal requirement (36 lakh tonnes) of the hard coke industry in Dhanbad at the notified price.

The factories had to purchase the remaining 25 per cent through e-auction.

The price of coal as per the notified price under the fuel supply agreement, including the transportation cost, was Rs 6,000 per tonne compared with Rs 7,500 per tonne in e-auction.

Hard coke factories have alleged that they were not getting good quality coal despite paying a higher price.

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