Coal-fired power plants in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, already hard-hit by fuel shortages, have seen their fuel transport costs increase significantly, The Times of India has reported.

According to the report, mismanagement and “irregularities” in railway freight coal transport have led to cost increases of up to 30 per cent for power producers across the state. One such plant, the 1340 MW Sanjay Ghandi Thermal Power Station (pictured) in Birsinghpur, in the Umaria district, reported paying 30 per cent higher transport charges while around 1000 metric tonnes of coal, listed as having been loaded and dispatched, failed to be delivered.

A K Taylor, the plant’s chief engineer, told the Times that “we take action against agencies involved in cases like this.”

The problems with India’s overstretched rail transport system will only get worse, analysts say, if the government’s aim to double state-owned Coal India Ltd’s (CIL) production in the next five years comes to fruition. According to reports, CIL currently produces over 50m tonnes of coal per year that is not delivered due to transport issues.

Among the problems are a shortage of rail cars and congestion on the lines. CIL’s technical director Nagendra Kumar has said that, while 200 fuel convoys leave its depots each day, 30 more would be needed in order to adequately supply India’s power plants.  

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