Continuing coal crisis could lead to lay-offs: Nalco

Continuing coal crisis could lead to lay-offs: Nalco
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First Published: Thu, Aug 02 2007. 05 21 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Aug 02 2007. 05 21 PM IST
New Delhi: State-run aluminium giant Nalco has warned if its coal crisis continues unabated, it may have to lay off employees, prompting the Mines Ministry to seek the Prime Minister’s intervention on ensuring adequate supply of coal for the PSU.
Acute paucity of coal has compelled the Orissa-based National Aluminium Company (NALCO) to close down two of its captive power plants as coal supply from the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has dwindled to around 9,000 tonnes from 15,000 tonnes per day.
Warning that the company’s performance could take a serious hit owing to the crisis arising out of the present situation, Nalco CMD C R Pradhan in a letter to Mines Minister Sis Ram Ola had warned “this may also lead to laying off of employees”.
Pradhan’s letter has sent alarm bells ringing in the Ministry with Ola shooting off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention
“I seek your kind attention on securing additional supply of coal for Nalco. I request you to instruct concerned authorities to provide additional coal to the PSU at the earliest,” Ola said in his letter to the Prime Minster.
He pointed out that the Navratna company is currently implementing its expansion plans and it was imperative to ensure adequate coal for its captive power plants.
Ola also drew Railway Minister Lalu Prasad’s attention to that fact that shortage of rakes was crippling coal supply to Nalco’s power plant and suggested additional rakes be made available to enable the PSU to ferry coal from the pithead to the power plants.
Pointing out that under the current situation Nalco was forced to close two power plants, a company spokesman told PTI the PSU needed about 15,000 tonnes of coal everyday, but was getting only 8,000 to 9,000 tonnes.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too has written to the Prime Minister, requesting him to direct Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) to ensure uninterrupted supply of coal to the aluminium giant.
Pradhan in his letter to Ola said: “Unless the Railways help us immediately by allotting one-and-a-half rakes per day we will have no other option than closing one of our three operating potlines in the smelter plant.”
However, when asked to comment on the coal shortage, a Coal Ministry official told PTI the PSU’s inept handling of transportation has resulted in its current plight.
“Nalco has been given captive coal blocks to enable it to operate its power plants. It handles transportation of coal from the pithead to the plants on its own. The mode of transportation broke down causing shortage. Coal PSUs cannot be blamed for its (Nalco’s) plight,” he said.
With the system breaking down, the aluminium giant’s coal stock position has dwindled rapidly and the company’s top brass made a fervent appeal to Coal India Ltd to bail it out of the crisis, he said.
“As a one time measure, the Ministry’s sub-group has recommended that two rakes of coal be supplied to the PSU to augment supplies to keep its captive power plants operational to ensure continued power generation till their coal supplies were restored,” the official said.
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First Published: Thu, Aug 02 2007. 05 21 PM IST