Coal-fired captive power plants (CPP), integral to the manufacturing landscape of industries such as cement and steel, have asked the railways to stop allocating rakes for a few weeks as the units don’t need the solid fuel until the end of the lockdown and resumption of normal production run.
India’s captive generation capacity is about 50 GW, mainly in industries such base metals, chemicals, textiles, cement and paper. Shutdowns have forced captive plants to reduce or stop generation, leading to a drastic and sudden fall in coal demand.
“These plants are not in a position to receive coal rakes due to their inability to send demand-drafts for advance-freight payment to loading destinations,” said Rajiv Agrawal, secretary general, Indian Captive Power Producers Association. “For delivered coal, rake unloading at destination is a major issue due to non-availability of unloading hands and truck drivers.”
He said the railways have sought a list of manufacturing units that didn’t want to receive coal and have suspended allotment to them until April 14, the scheduled end to the lockdown going by the current timetable.
Demand for captive power is expected to remain low even after the lockdown ends, as it may take weeks for labourers to return. “The suspension should have been extended by a few weeks,” he said.
Agarwal has urged the railways to suspend supplies for a few weeks unless there is a specific request from some operational units.