Coal India’s Rs.15,700 Crore impetus for mechanized transport and loading

Sambalpur: To bring in improved efficiency in coal transport and computer aided loading, Coal India Limited (CIL) on a mission mode has identified 14 additional projects, under Phase II, for its ‘first mile connectivity’ (FMC) initiative. Four coal companies of CIL together will infuse a tentative capital of over Rs. 3,400 Crores in these projects that have a total of 100.5 Million Tonnes/Year (MT/Y) capacity.

Under Phase I, the state owned Maharatna coal miner had earlier zeroed in on 35 projects, each having 4 MT/Y capacity and above, from six of its subsidiaries with a capital of Rs.12,300 Crores. Their combined project capacity is 406 MT/Y. The 49 projects under both the phases will have a total of 506.5 MT/Y capacity.

FMC is the transportation of coal from pitheads to despatch points. This move aims to replace the existing road transport between the two points and switch over to a seamless mechanized coal transport through conveyor belts which is a covered system for movement of coal reducing the dust pollution. It will also have the added benefit of computer aided loading of railway wagons.

As a corollary, CIL will set up Coal Handling Plants (CHPs) with Silos having Rapid Loading Systems, which will have benefits like crushing, sizing of coal, quicker and better quality coal loading with the advantage of precise pre-weighed quantity of coal being loaded. CHP/Silo loading will be a big shot in the arm for CIL in furthering its quality supply of coal.

“This will be a tipping point in our coal transportation in the first mile. The multiple advantages include easing the load on road networks, saving on diesel costs, cleaner environment and stoppage of possible pilferage. Another advantage is quicker computer aided loading of wagons” said a senior executive of the company.

Of the 14 Phase II projects, Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) accounts for 5 with 62.5 MT/Y capacity. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) with a solitary project has 20 MT/Y capacity. Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) 7 projects and South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) 1 project have capacities of 14 MT/Y and 4 MT/Y respectively. Tenders for these different projects will be floated beginning August this year till next two years.

Since coal will be loaded directly into the wagons from Silos it eliminates manual loading through pay loaders which is generally prone to overloading or under loading of wagons. Susceptibility of extraneous material being loaded through pay loadersleading to quality issues is another concern.

“Improved computer aided loading time will bring down the wagon idling. Wagon cycle time will be reduced by a few hours increasing wagon availability. It is a win-win situation for the company, railways and the consumer” said the stated official.

CIL already transports 151 MT/Y of coal through mechanized system and loads through CHP/Silos from 19 projects. Now it would be enhanced to 557 MT/Y by 2023-24 through phase I projects. Phase II projects will start contributing once the formalities of finalization are over.

Of the 35 Phase I projects, 2 projects, one each in SECL and MCL with a combined capacity of 26 MT/Y are already operational since February and April of this year. 7 projects of 91 MT/Y are under construction of which four are expected to get completed in this financial year.While tenders have already been floated for 8 projects having 76 MT/Y capacity, tenders for the remaining 18 projects will be issued on a fast track mode before 30th September of the current year.

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