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Hard coke factories in Dhanbad face crisis

Source: The telegraph, August 5, 2019

As many as 94 hard coke factories here are reeling under an acute coal crisis for the last one month because of Coal India’s decision to supply through e-auction only.

Till June this year, Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), a subsidiary of Coal India, used to supply coal to factories at a notified price under the fuel supply agreement (FSA). Procuring coal through e-auction will entail a higher cost.

A delegation of hard coke factory owners met chief minister Raghubar Das’s principal secretary Sunil Kumar Barnwal on Saturday and requested him to intervene.

“More than 1 lakh people including over 50,000 employees of over 94 hard coke factories and 50,000 people indirectly associated with the industry will be affected by Coal India’s decision to withdraw the FSA. The factories are on the verge of closure in the absence of coal,” B.N. Singh, president of Industries and Commerce Association who led the delegation, told The Telegraph on Sunday.

Singh said they had also raised the issue with coal minister Pralhad Joshi on July 29 besides meeting BJP national general secretary Arun Singh in New Delhi to draw their attention to the crisis.

Hard coke is made from coal and has lesser impurities and high carbon content. Being an excellent source of heat, it is used in blast furnaces and boilers.

Hard coke factories were getting coal at a notified price from Coal India under the five-year FSA from 2013-18, which was extended till June this year. However, Coal India discontinued supply from July and asked factory owners procure costlier coal via e-auction.

Under the FSA, Coal India was supposed to meet 75 per cent of the annual coal requirement (36 lakh tonnes) of the hard coke industry in Dhanbad at the notified price.

The factories had to purchase the remaining 25 per cent through e-auction.

The notified price of coal, including the transportation charge, is Rs 6,000 per tonne compared with Rs 7,500 per tonne of the coal procured through e-auction.

BCCL director (technical) Rakesh Kumar said: “We have very limited role in the issue because Coal India’s decision to not allot coal under the FSA is a part of its policy.”

News Source: The Telegraph