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India needs to focus on improving availability of domestic coal: Venugopal

New Delhi, Mon, 13 Feb 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Feb 13 (ANI): Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal has said that India needs to seriously focus on improving the availability of domestic coal by developing more mines and has to find ways to improve fuel security.


Venugopal, who inaugurated the International Conference on Power Plant Operation and Maintenance (O and M) here today, said that with the present production plans indicated by coal companies, India may have to import as high as 213 million tonnes of coal by the terminal year of 12h plan as against 35 million tonnes required to be imported in the terminal year of 11th plan.


Emphasizing that the Merit Order Operation will be the rule of the game in the coming days, he said that with the changing scenario, the days ahead will be for those who are able to operate the power stations more efficiently.


Venugopal pointed out that availability and pricing of coal are two crucial issues confronting the power sector today. He said in the domestic front, fuel supply agreements have not been signed between coal companies and generators for plants commissioned after March 2009.


He expressed concern that while on one hand increase in production of coal in the country is not able to keep pace with the capacity addition in the 11th Plan, on the other hand there are issues related to pricing of imported coal.


Venugopal said that realizing the importance of these issues, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has already set up a high level committee of secretaries to find solution for these issues.


"The initiatives have already been taken for execution of fuel supply agreements for plants commissioned beyond March 2009," he added, while expressing hope that these issues will be resolved shortly.


Venugopal asked the NTPC to work hard for early start of production of coal from its captive mines which will not only help in bridging the gap between requirement and availability but will also help in lowering the cost of power generation.


"Improving efficiency of thermal power stations by better O and M plays a significant role in addressing the environmental concerns and also reducing the generation cost," he said.


Venugopal also touched upon the new challenges faced by the power industry in land acquisition and environment fronts.


Delegates from various countries are attending the conference, which is being organized by the NTPC. The theme of the conference is 'Powering the Nation - Challenges Ahead'. (ANI)


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