Government is promoting coal evacuation through cost effective inland water transport river routes and is trying to promote coastal shipping from east to west coast, Coal Secretary Amrit Meena has said. Coal from IB Valley and Talcher Coalfields in Odisha can be evacuated through National waterways (NW) 5 and 64. These waterways are being considered for coal evacuation.”
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is working on feasibility reports for these waterways. Recently, there was a meeting of Secretaries from Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Railways and Coal. An agreement was reached for some form of institutional arrangement to try to develop these two waterways, he said. While National water ways five situated near the coal rich Talcher region connects Odisha with parts of West Bengal, number sixty four provides connectivity from Sambalpur region in Western Odisha to Paradip Port.
Ministries of Coal, Ports, Shipping and Waterways as well as Railways are working on developing the inland waterways for evacuating coal from IB valley and Talcher coalfields in Odisha, which account for a lion’s share of coal supplied to power plants in the country. “The proposal is being firmed up and a detailed project report (DPR) is being prepared. The government will soon come out with the requisite modalities,” Meena said. Inland waterways is a very environment friendly coal evacuation mechanism and it also reduces stress on the rail and road networks to some extent. The government intends to create a 360 degree coal logistics policy that addresses all the bottlenecks in logistics.
Nearly 20 per cent of the coal from Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL) is transported through Coastal shipping to Gencos in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as well as to some power plants of NTPC. The thermal plants in Tamil Nadu have been using coastal shipping to transport thermal coal for the past fifty years. The state has its own Shipping Corporation whose ships carry coal from Odisha ports to thermal plants. Regular coastal shipping in this route has been on since 1973.
“Now, the all rail route movement of coal from MCL to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and West UP is congested. the Coal Ministry is keen on movement of coal from Paradip via Coastal Shipping to Western coast. NTPC has transported coal for the Kudgi plant (Karnataka), as well as Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) and Jhajjar (Haryana) plants. Around 1.5-2 rakes per day are being transported from Paradip to the western coast,”.
Mr Meena said that the ministry has been requesting governments of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra to promote coastal shipping. As and when there is congestion in the rail routes, this additional capacity can come handy. “In terms of costs of evacuating coal from East to West India, the all rail route is about Rs 4,700 per ton including cost of coal. The Coastal Shipping would work out around Rs 7,000 per ton. But the same grade of coal when imported is Rs 10,000a ton. So, its little costly compared to the all rail route but cheaper than imported coal. We need to have 5 per cent of our coal evacuation capacity through coastal shipping route to western side so as to meet the peak demand,” the Secretary said