Dialogue for Coal Security: Odisha based industries express concern over shortage of coal

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Bhubaneswar: Odisha based industries are facing a serious shortage of coal which affects the operations of many captive power plants in the state. Unless this issue is taken seriously and addressed this would hit the future of many major stakeholders ultimately affecting the overall industrial growth under the long-term vision of Make in Odisha.

This concern was highlighted by the industry leaders at the workshop on ‘Dialogue for Coal Security for Odisha Based Industries’ organised by Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI), here today.

Ramesh Mahapatra, President UCCI, set the context of the event by deliberating on the demand-supply gap in coal. He said, “Odisha is one of the largest coal producing states in the country. However, it is unfortunate that our own coal-based industries are not getting priority in our own land. It is a serious concern for all of us and we should take it up at appropriate forums at the state and national level with the help of the key stakeholders.”

“We have already taken up the issue with the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha and requested the Govt. to intervene. For the larger benefit of our own industries, if required, Utkal Chamber shall represent the issue with the Coal Minister, Govt. of India”, he added.

Abhijit Pati, CEO Vedanta Ltd. appreciated the initiative of UCCI for giving the industries such a platform to deliberate on the issue. He said that the vision of Make In India and Make In Odisha can be stellar successes when the industries, producers, manufacturers, and MSMEs operate at their fullest potential, as they contribute largely to the exchequer as well as socio-economic development of the state. “Due to coal scarcity, power plants are operating at 60-70% of their installed capacity which is ultimately hampering the interests of the state and nation.” He requested UCCI and all the industry leaders to deliberate more on the issue and collaboratively work towards an early resolution.

SS Upadhyaya from JSL raised the issue linked with transportation of coal to the designated plants. “Non-materialization of rakes is worsening the coal crisis in the state. Imported coal often lies stagnant at Paradeep, Dhamra, and other ports as there are no rakes to transport them. Industries in Odisha are operating with coal inventory as low as 3-4 days, which is extremely stressing for the operation”, he expressed.

“If bigger industries like JSL are facing huge losses because of this, we can imagine the situation of our MSMEs. Coal security of industries native to the Odisha needs to be the priority for the state”, Upadhyaya appealed.

Concerned by the plight of the industries, UCCI organized the dialogue which intended to understand the coal crunch in Odisha through the perspective of affected companies and chart a roadmap towards a potential solution. A significant chunk of the participating companies were Captive Power Producers, and major coal users across diverse industry sectors like primary aluminium, iron, steel, cement, paper, fertilizers, etc.

Senior management executives and top brass of more than 20 of the state’s biggest business houses, producers and manufacturers like Vedanta, NALCO, JSL, Hindalco, Tata Sponge, JK Paper, Facor Power, etc. participated in the dialogue and presented the issue from various points of views.

The program was presided by UCCI apex committee comprising Ramesh Mahapatra, President, Asit Pradhan, VP (Industry), AK Sharda, VP (Commerce), Dhiren Dhal, Secretary, Sanjeev Mahapatra, Jt. Secretary, Ashok Chinchela, Treasurer and convened by Rajen Padhi, Director General.

Odisha’s coal scenario as it stands today is quite paradoxical. Although the state of Odisha is endowed with 24.52% coal reserves and 15% of coal production in India, the local Industries have been striving for sustainability due to the acute shortage in coal supplies.

The total need of the state is 80 million tons, of which captive power producers in the State need only nearly 40 million tons for the consumption. Mahanadi Coal Fields Ltd. (MCL) produces about 140 million tons and which can cater to the needs of the local industry. But, the reality is that the entire industrial fraternity requiring coal reels are on the acute shortage as the supplies to CPPs by Coal India is only 12-13 Million Tons which is 30% of the requirement.

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