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NEW DELHI : The union power ministry has allowed states to use tolling facility of up to 25% of linkage coal in a bid to cater to the growing power demand and curb power shortage in the country.

Tolling helps states to give coal to some other plant through competitive bidding where power can be generated and transmitted to the state with the original coal linkage. It would enable states to optimally utilise their linkage coal in the plants that are closer to the mines as it would be easier to transmit electricity instead of transporting coal to states that are far from coal mines.

An official statement on Wednesday said that it is expected to enable states to optimally utilise their linkage coal in the plants nearer to the mines.

Chairing a meeting to review imported coal based plants, import of coal for blending and coal stock position on Tuesday, Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy R.K. Singh said that the decision would enable states to optimally utilise their linkage coal in the plants nearer to the mines as it would be easier to transmit electricity instead of coal transport to far off states.

Further, keeping in view the rapidly increasing demand for power, the minister recommended that all gencos should endeavor to import coal for blending up to 10%. During the meeting state-wise and genco-wise targets were fixed and it was urged to ensure delivery of coal for blending purpose before onset of monsoon as domestic coal supply gets affected during rainy season.

The minister took review of the operations of imported coal based plants and directed all the procurer states to ensure that all ICB plants are operational at fair and reasonable tariffs. It was decided to resolve all the operational issues in ICB plants and make them fully functional.

Principal secretaries and senior officials from states, independent power producers and representatives of ICB plants attended the meeting. Union power secretary Alok Kumar, additional secretary Vivek Kumar Devangan and CMDs of power CPSEs were also present in the meeting held yesterday. The meeting was held in the wake of rising power demand.

The review meeting comes on the backdrop of the surging power demand in the country and also as several states are experiences power outages. Concerns have been raised over the adequate availability of coal to cater to the rising power demand going ahead.

Normally, a power plant must maintain 26 days of coal stock. However, currently, several power plants are reporting critical levels. Data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) shows that 97 power plants out of the 173 CEA has information on, have critical levels of coal inventory. Of the 173, there are 155 non-pithead plants or power plants which are not near to coal mines. 

They have an average of 28% of the stock compared to the normal scenario. The 18 plants that are nearby coal mines have an average stock of 81% of the normal requirement.

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