The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to decide in two weeks the plea by Sasan Power Ltd, a Reliance Power subsidiary, for permission to mine coal from its two mines in excess of the 17 MTPA cap to enable it to run the 3,960 megawatt power project in Madhya Pradesh.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the Centre-appointed committee, which is considering the issue, to take a decision expeditiously and before the next date of hearing on February 21.
The order came after the court was told by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, that a meeting of the committee will be held today in the office of the chairman of the Central Electricity Authority and the company has also been invited to participate in it.
The ASG contended there was no urgency as in the past also the company had raised “false alarms” of insufficient reserves of coal but had managed to run its plant.
The company, on the other hand, contended that the committee be directed to arrive at a decision within one week as it would soon run out of coal to run the plant.
It also orally sought an interim direction from the court permitting it to mine extra coal to run the plant in the event that it runs out of the mineral while the committee deliberates on its plea.
The bench, however, refrained from passing any such interim order, saying that the court was not an expert to decide the issue before it.
The company, in its application, has contended that the mining of 17 million tonne per annum (MTPA) of coal allowed from its two blocks Moher and Moher-Amlohri in the state was not enough to carry out operations till the end of this financial year.
Sasan Power has claimed that if it was not allowed to mine another two MTPA, that is up to 19 MTPA, in this financial year, it will not be able to meet the requirements of its Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) that supplies electricity to 14 discoms in seven states including Delhi.
It has contended that in such a situation, the threat of a shutdown was looming large over the operation of the power project.
It has said that the approved quantity of coal would not meet the requirement for running the plant for the last 10 days of March this year, severely affecting 42 crore consumers.
Such a situation will also entail a loss of around Rs 130 crore for the company, while the discoms would have to shell out more than Rs 200 crore to purchase power from other sellers, it has claimed.
The company has said that it supplied electricity under a 25-year-long term power purchase agreement on a tariff of Rs 1.196 per kWh to 14 discoms across the states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
In its application seeking permission to mine 19 MTPA, Sasan has contended that this will also help it to maintain additional stock of coal of 1.25 million tonne for meeting any exigency which might disrupt coal production.
The application was filed in the main writ petition by Reliance Power and Sasan challenging the Centre’s May 7, 2015, decision to cancel one of the three coal blocks allocated to Sasan UMPP.
The government had justified the cancellation, saying the unit’s coal requirement could be met by the other two mines, Moher and Moher-Amlohri extension.
Sasan project is an integrated power plant-cum-coal mining project at a single location, involving an investment of over Rs 27,000 crore, Reliance has said in its petition.moneycontrol