Biting the bullet on the contentious issue of coal imports, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to import coal worth nearly Rs 1,100 crore to fire state run thermal power plants.
The rising power demand coupled with persistent coal supply bottlenecks has tilted the scales in favour of expensive coal imports although the Yogi Adityanath government in UP had earlier firmly put down its foot.
According to sources, the proposed inventory of imported coal in this phase, totalling about 0.55 million tonnes, would feed the thermal power plants for only two months.
The decision was taken at the high level UP energy task force (ETF) headed by the UP chief secretary and comprising senior bureaucrats and power department mandarins.
At the meeting, the ETF green flagged the proposal of using imported coal for not only state run but also private thermal power plants.
Now, the important proposal would be placed before the state cabinet for vetting and approval before the imported coal shipments reach the plants of the different generating companies.
Sources said the private companies and the state power utility, UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (UPRVUNL), could soon float tenders for procuring the black commodity.
Interestingly, the issue had been hanging fire for the past nearly two months even in the face of coaxing by the central government of the different states to lap up imported coal to ensure unstinted power supply amid coal supply irritants in the summer and monsoon months.
However, the Adityanath government had stiffly resisted the move, and instead managed the power supply matrix through rostering and buying additional power from energy exchanges.
According to UP power consumers forum president Awadhesh Kumar Verma, the imported coal would put extra pressure on the state power companies, which were already in a precarious financial state.
Meanwhile, Verma called upon UP additional chief secretary, energy, Awanish Kumar Awasthi here on Wednesday. Awasthi assured the additional burden would not befall the state power consumers and that the decision was taken since the Coal India Limited (CIL) had pared the coal supply to the state of late.