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‘Anyone with minimal intelligence will understand this’: Power Ministry slams Business Standard Deputy Editor for misleading allegations on coal import

Rejecting the allegations of change in coal import policy by Business Standard Deputy Editor Shreya Jai, the power ministry said that India always imports coal based on domestic availability and power demand

On Thursday (August 18), the Ministry of Power slammed the Deputy Editor (Energy & Infra) of Business Standard, Shreya Jai, for misleading people about coal imports in the country.

The controversy began earlier this month when Shreya took to Twitter to claim that the Modi government has made U-turns in its energy policy. In a tweet, she alleged, “In 3 months, the Centre has gone from mandating imported coal blending for power gencos to making it optional.”

The journalist further stated, “In May, Ministry of Power directed gencos to blend 10% imported coal or face domestic supply reduction.”

Shreya Jai claimed that the Power Ministry allowed power generation companies to pass the escalated cost of imported coal to the end consumers. She also alleged that the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPCL), a public sector undertaking, placed an import tender of 6.25 million tonnes (MT).

“It estimated a 50-70 paisa/unit increase in power tariff after 10% imported coal blending,” her tweet read. The journalist also insinuated ‘foul play’ in the manner in which the Adani Group managed to get hold of the tenders.

“As several states clamoured against the idea of importing coal, PowerMin asked them to put their tenders in abeyance. It instead directed national miner & world’s 2nd largest coal producer @CoalIndiaHQ to import coal for the first time in its history,” she said in a tweet.

“But as against an estimated demand of 40 million tonne, CIL received interest for barely 2.4 MT from states and private gencos. The first tender of Rs 4,500 crore went to Adani Enterprises and the second to a blacklisted firm from Indonesia,” the Business Standard Deputy Editor continued.

In another tweet, Shreya Jai alleged that the supposed ‘U-turns’ by the Modi government have led to a severe blow to the private and State-owned gencos.

While accusing the Union government of doublespeak, Shreya remarked, “Yesterday (August 2), the Power Ministry revoked all its earlier decisions on imported coal, leaving it up to the states and gencos to import coal, if need be. It even told NTPC to reduce blending to 5% from 10%.”

She also shared a press release from February 2020 wherein then Minister of Coal and Mines, Pralhad Joshi, stated that India would stop the import of thermal coal from Financial Year 2023-24. The idea was to suggest that the Union government had been contradicting its own claims.

Power Ministry slams Shreya Jai for ‘utter ignorance’

In a series of tweets on Thursday (August 18), the Ministry of Power denied the allegations and slammed Shreya Jai for “displaying an utter ignorance of the sector which she is reported to be covering.”

In the statement, the Ministry of Power clarified that coal is being imported into India for a long time. It pointed out how the imports have decreased drastically over time from 38.5 million tonnes in 2013-2014 to 12.2 million tonnes in 2022-2023.

“Our power demand grew by 15 to 20% in energy terms from August / September 2021 onwards. The domestic coal supplies increased, but not enough to meet demand,” it further informed.

The Power Ministry pointed out how the coal stocks at power plants were being used at a rapid pace, leading to a deficit of 1.2 lakh tonnes each day by April-May this year.

“Had we not started imports when we did, our coal stock would have touched a low of 7 million tonnes on 23rd July. This would have meant large numbers of plants having zero stock – leading to large-scale load shedding,” it justified its decision.

While explaining the rationale behind coal imports, it emphasised, “When the supplies of domestic coal are sufficient we do not import/import less coal. When domestic supplies are insufficient, we need to import coal for blending.”

“Anyone with minimal intelligence will understand this. Unfortunately, this correspondent does not,” the Power Ministry went on to slam Shreya Jai.

The Power Ministry made it clear that the decision to involve Coal India Limited in imports lies with gencos at State, Central and IPP level. “If the States want the CIL to import on their behalf they give their indent to the CIL,” it said.

While rubbishing the insinuation that tender was given preferentially to the Adani Group, the Ministry of Power said, “All procurement is through open international bids and contract is awarded to company which can supply coal at lowest rate.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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