Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today met Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda to seek his help for ensuring uninterrupted coal supply for power plants in the state to enable smooth transplantation of paddy.
Sukhbir, who also holds the power portfolio in the state, sought railways' help to secure uninterrupted coal supply under enhanced coal allocation quota from Central Coal Fields. The enhanced quota was approved recently by coal ministry following a representation by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Accompanied by Punjab Power Secretary Anirudh Tewari and Powercom Chairman KD Chaudhary, Sukhbir briefed Gowda about the constraints in the system of transporting coal to the state via railway wagons.
Gowda was told that Punjab is a major producer of paddy and the entire transplantation process could only be sustained by providing uninterrupted power to the farmers. He said that irregular coal supply could not only hit the paddy season but also lead to a crisis. Emphasising to Gowda that the coming 15 days was very crucial for Punjab and its paddy season in view of the late monsoon, Sukhbir demanded that Punjab's share of coal be made available to it without any cuts. He also spoke of the need for additional coal linkages for the Lehra and Bathinda Thermal Plants and said that railways should ensure mandatory coal supply and also accelerate the coal transportation from mines to the rail head.
Sukhbir, meanwhile, also thanked the rail minister for announcing new trains for Punjab like the Delhi-Bathinda Shatabdi, Saharsa-Amritsar Jan Sadharan Express, Nagpur- Amritsar AC Express (weekly), Ferozepur-Chandigarh Express and Delhi-Pathankot high-speed train.
Gowda later issued an on-the-spot directive for regular coal supply via railway rakes to Punjab and asked the Railway Board's Member (Traffic), DP Pande, to expeditiously resolve the issues raised by the deputy chief minister.