New Delhi: In a setback to thermal plants facing fuel shortage, Coal India has informed power producers that it can assure only 60 percent of supply and would "gradually" reach the 80 percent mark in the coming years.
"Coal India is saying 80 percent coal supply to power plants is not possible, they can only supply up to 60 percent and would increase it to 80 percent in the next four years," a Power Ministry official said.
This proposed arrangement would be applicable for thermal power plants commissioned after March, 2009.
Meanwhile, the Power Ministry is insisting on a minimum supply level of 65 percent, if Coal India finds its difficult to meet the mandated commitment of 80 percent.
"At least 65 percent (supply) should be there, failing which Coal India should be penalised...And it should ramp it up to 80 percent in the next four years," the official said.
Prime Minister's Office, in March, had asked Coal India to sign Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with power generation companies at minimum supply level of 80 percent of total requirement.
Under the pact with power companies, the coal producer will have to commit itself to supply at least 80 percent of the fuel to these users.
"The spirit of the directive was to arrest the uncertainty of coal supply to power plants," the official said.
On the other hand, Coal India has suggested a 0.01 percent penalty on not delivering the fuel in time, but the penalty would only be applicable after three years of signing the pact.
NTPC and many other power companies have refused to ink fuel supply pacts with Coal India, disagreeing with introduction of some clauses in FSAs.
At present, 14 power utilities have signed the FSAs with Coal India.
Coal major, which produces 436 million tonnes presently plans to enhance this capacity to 464 million tonnes by the end of the current financial year (2012-13). It has also earmarked a supply of 347 million tonnes for the power sector.