A power crisis might be looming over the state with the Central Railway (CR) shooting off a letter to the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) asking the latter to pay up pending bills of Rs111 crore incurred in the transportation of coal.
The letter states that a worst-case scenario would have the CR asking collieries in Nagpur and Bilaspur – which send coal for Mahagenco’s four Maharashtra-based power plants – to stop loading them on CR’s wagons.
The move could mean that power plants might not have enough coal to generate electricity in case the CR carries out its warning.
Mahagenco has an installed capacity of 10,237 MW, of which nearly 6,980 MW is coal-based. One gas-based generating station at Uran has installed capacity of 672 MW. Hydro electric projects in the state were designed, erected and commissioned through the Water Resources Department (WRD). After commissioning, the hydro projects were handed over on long-term lease to Mahagenco for operation and maintenance. At present, there are 27 hydel projects having a capacity of 2,585 MW.
The letter came after the CR realised that as of September 9, the total outstanding bill has reached Rs111 crore, up by Rs 18 crore since August 31 when the outstanding was around Rs 93.25 crore. Meetings between CR authorities and Mahagenco officials on June 6 and July 4 this year didn’t have much impact, said sources.
Mahagenco, the power generation arm of the trifurcated Maharashtra State Electricity Board, has four power plants in the state at Nashik, Bhusawal, Paras and Chandrapur. The maximum amount of coal for electricity generation to these four plants comes from the Western Coalfields Limited collieries near Nagpur and collieries of the South Eastern Coalfields near Bilaspur.
According to sources, the Nashik plant has an outstanding of Rs17.79 crore, while the Bhusaval plant has around Rs25,7 crore.
The Paras plant has an outstanding of Rs15.2 crore. The Chandrapur plant has the highest outstanding at Rs52 crore.
According to officials, the railways has two ways of accepting payments for the coal it transports. One is where the firm puts in three days of advance with the railways – that is the total cost of coal loaded for a period of three days – and secondly by a method where the firm pays up when the coal reaches the power plant.
This, however, comes with a 10 per cent hike in bills.
“It is a known fact that electricity firms are bleeding because of various problems, including transmission losses and theft.
However, outstanding bills for agencies like the railways, already in the red, is compounding problems,” said a railway official.
While Ajoy Mehta, managing director of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, to whom the letter is addressed told dna that it was a matter concerning the generation arm of the MSEB.
Asheesh Sharma, managing director of Mahagenco, could not be reached despite repeated attempts.