State plans to make 6 coal blocks functional, bring down power tariff
Kolkata: The state Power department is mulling the idea of bringing down power tariff in the state by making six coal blocks operational by the end of this year.
"The Coal ministry has divided the coal blocks among the states and we have been allotted six blocks. We have already made two of these blocks operational. Another two will be made operational soon. Once we start extraction from them, we can reduce the import of coal to a minimum or zero. Then there is a possibility of reducing the power tariff," said Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, state Power and Non-Conventional Energy Sources minister.
The six coal blocks allotted to West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) are Barjora-1, Gangaram
Chak, Gangaram Chak Bhaduria, Kasta, Panchwara in Pakur, Jharkhand and Trans Damodar in Birbhum which is under Durgapur Projects Limited. All these coal blocks have a reserve of 456.50 metric tonnes.
The process of making the coal blocks operational is time-consuming as clearance from the Union Forest and Environment ministry takes time.
According to a senior official of the Power department, the Electricity Regulatory Commission, while fixing the power tariff takes into account the price of coal, price of crude oil, freight charges, cess on coal, establishment and project cost in deciding power tariff.
"So, once we can produce our own coal and cut down dependency on Coal India, we can bring down the tariff," he said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after a recent meeting with ministers at Nabanna, had said that the state was facing coal shortage as Coal India has been sending less coal to Bengal.
"We face no difficulty if they send 12 to 14 rakes a month but recently they are sending eight rakes. But we have been able to overcome this shortfall with two of our coal blocks getting operationalised," the official said.
The Union government has allotted Deocha Pachami — the world's second-largest coal block, with an estimated reserve of 2.1 billion tonnes to the WBPDCL, but extraction from it will take time mainly due to a thick layer of overburden (an outer surface covering the coal seams).