New Delhi, Mar 27 (UNI) RITES Ltd, a public sector enterprise of the Railway Ministry, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Power Finance Corporation (PFC) for developing a cost-effective transportation system for movement of the fuel within the country and import of the same.
Under the agreement, RITES and PFC will combine their resources and expertise to facilitate import of coal from African countries and elsewhere to address the problem of power deficit and bridge the demand and supply gap in availability of coal for the thermal plants in the country. Railways provide the major vehicle for coal transportation in India and coal is the largest single commodity transported by the transport behemoth.
''RITES being a technical arm of Indian Railways will liase with Railway authorities for carrying and expediting sectoral studies, developing suitable plans and ensuring adequate rail network for coal movement and development of new rail links with port connectivity,'' a RITES official said.
As part of the agreement, the two entities will collaborate with relevant agencies for augmentation of port capacity to meet the increased demand, early completion of the existing projects and port connectivity through seamless hinterland road and rail development to meet the requirement of imported coal.
Further, they would also provide advisory services to Indian companies in acquiring mining rights.
The official said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), if required, would be formed to acquire mining rights along with a local company, outsource the mining of coal and import the same to India for selling. Other Indian and foreign partners could also join the SPVs with the mutual consent of PFC and RITES.
RITES has expertise in engineering design development and consultancy services in all facets of transport technology and infrastructure and is a well-known entity in Indian and foreign markets especially in railway, road, bridges, property development and building construction.
At present, RITES is involved in the in the rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of the railway network in Tanzania and Mozambique where it is engaged for 25 years. RITES has 51 per cent and 26 per cent stakes in these countries respectively.
PFC, a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC), is provides fund and non-fund based support to various power utilities engaged in generation, transmission and distribution of power in India.
''Both the parties realise that the Indian economy has grown rapidly over the past decade with corresponding increase in the demand for energy and power. To meet the ever-increasing demand and to sustain existing growth, the country needs to use the available resources and power conservatively,'' the official said, pointing out that coal was likely to be the main fuel for power generation as there was uncertainty with regard to availability of gas.
In XIth Plan, coal and lignite-based thermal projects have been identified for capacity addition.
''Keeping in view the availability of coal in the country, it is felt there will be a mismatch in demand and supply of coal and shortfall in the supply will have to be met through import of coal,'' said the official. PFC has identified funding of coal-based thermal power projects as the mainstay for a long-term sustainable growth of the power sector and feels that there is a urgent need to supplement coal supplies from Indian mines with impor of coal on a long-term basis at competitive price.
RITES, besides being a technical partner, will identify the countries from where possibility of owning coal mining exists and excavation of coal is feasible for its export to India.
UNI SKS VD HS1538