Published On : Fri, Jul 5th, 2013

WCL finds itself cornered in the powerful frames of HC over very poor coal quality

The Mahagenco has nailed the false claim of WCL over quality of coal. The WCL informed the Court that the coal loaded into trucks has less than “35 per cent ash contain.” However, Mahagenco contested the WCL’s claim and asserted that the coal contains more than 50 per cent of ash. The High Court, after witnessing claims and counterclaims, directed the WCL to submit a report and come clean on quality inspection of coal during loading of trucks.

 

 Nagpur News: The Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), notorious for grabbing headlines, almost for wrong reasons, has again found itself cornered in the powerful frames of High Court. The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has directed the WCL to submit a report of coal quality inspection. The Mahagenco is supplied coal by WCL for generation of electricity. However, the coal supplied by WCL is of so inferior quality the power generation plants take severe beating on power generation front. The deadly pollution triggered by very poor quality of coal is another ugly dimention. After considering the blakish aspects of the state of affairs, the High Court has ordered WCL to submit report in this connection.

The High Court has sought specific quality inspection report during the coal is being loaded into trucks by WCL. The next hearing will be on July 31. The hearing over a petition was dane before the Bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Atul Chandurkar.

It may be recalled, a social activist Anil Wadpalliwar had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. The PIL had challenged the import of coal from Indonesia and Australia for supplying coal to thermal power projects in Vidarbha. The PIL had also urged the High Court to issue directions to Central Government over standardization of coal supplied by the WCL. The PIL had made Union Power Ministry, State Power Ministry, Union Coal Ministry, WCL, Mahagenco, and MSEDCL as parties in the case.

The Mahagenco has nailed the false claim of WCL over quality of coal. The WCL informed the Court that the coal loaded into trucks has less than “35 per cent ash contain.” However, Mahagenco contested the WCL’s claim and asserted that the coal contains more than 50 per cent of ash. The High Court, after witnessing claims and counterclaims, directed the WCL to submit a report and come clean on quality inspection of coal during loading of trucks.

According to the petition, Vidarbha has maximum coal mines, and, after considering the ground reality, more and more power projects were ercted in the region. However, despite having a large number of coal mines and coal resources, too, the Mahagenco is importing very costly coal from Indonesia and Australia. The Mahagenco could procure coal from Vidarbha mines at a comparatively cheaper cost. Moreover, the consumers would be burdened with additional amounts as the Mahagenco will certainly hike power tariff in the near future to recover the import duties from consumers in crores, the petition claimed.

The PIL further informed the High Court that according to Union Coal Ministry’s Gazette Notification issued through President of India, the WCL is bound to supply 80 per cent of total coal required by the power generation projects. In accordance with the Gazette Notification, the WCL is making available 19 lakh metric tons of coal to power projects in Vidarbha per month. Out of 19 lakh tons of coal, 5 lakh tons of coal is directly supplied to power projects, 6 lakh tons of coal through railways, and the remaining 8 lakh tons of coal is supplied by trucks from washeries.

The Mahagenco, pushing forward the reason of very poor quality of coal supplied through washeries, cancelled the contract in June. The cancellation of the contract resulted in shortage of 8 lakh tons of coal for power projects. Then the Mahagenco decided to import 5.5 lakh tons of coal to cover the shortage, the petition said.

The Mahagenco, too, was blasted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), for its inaction despite knowing well that the coal companies were supplying inferior quality of coal. According to CAG report, due to supply of very poor quality of coal, the thermal power stations in Bhusawal, Khaperkheda, Chandrapur, and Parali had to bear loss of whopping Rs. 5515.85 crore during the period from 2005 to 2010. And the environment, too, suffered a lethal brunt by way of deadly pollution, the CAG report said.

Adv Shrirang Bhandarkar represented the petitioner Anil Wadpalliwar and Adv Mehadiya put the side of WCL.