The Ministry of Coal and the coal companies have taken various measures to achieve the objective of supply of quality coal to all consumers. Coal companies are to endeavour to achieve 100% quality satisfaction. There has been substantial improvement in conformity to declared grade of coal supply from Coal India Ltd (CIL) sources. The grade conformity has jumped to 69% in 2022-23 (till Nov’ 22) as against 51% in 2017-18.
Steps taken for improvement in quality are periodic re-gradation of coal mines, introduction of improved mining technology like surface miners, supply of washed coal, first mile connectivity for direct conveying of coal on Belt from Coal surface/face to Rapid loading Silo, installation of Auto Analyzers etc. Different officials/agencies are entrusted with the job of ensuring supply of coal in conformity to the declared grades. Primary reason for grade variation is the inherent heterogeneous nature of Indian coal itself meaning, calorific value of coal extracted within the same seam at different points tends to vary.
Coal Controller Organisation (CCO), a subordinate office under the Ministry regularly assess and declare coal mines grades including undertaking annual coal mine/loading points grade declaration exercises. For enhanced customer satisfaction, special emphasis has been given to Quality Management of coal from mine to dispatch point. Now, all the consumers of CIL have the option for quality assessment of the supplies through independent third-party sampling agencies (TPSA). These accredited third-party agencies have been engaged to ascertain Coal Quality from loaded coal wagons/lorries as per prescribed norms under BIS standards. Apart from Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research (CIMFR) and Quality Council of India (QCI) two more agencies namely M/s SGS India Private Ltd (by CIL) for power & non-power sectors & M/s Mitra S K Pvt. Ltd. for power sectors are empanelled to provide more choices of Third-Party Agencies to consumers. All consumers of power /non-power sectors are free to take services of any of the empaneled agencies. The Coal Companies, also share 50% cost of sampling by Third party agencies. Facility of joint sampling of coal is also available to the consumers.
To infuse quality awareness at mines end, Coal companies also organize quality weeks, fortnights on regular intervals with active participation of consumer representatives. The persistent monitoring, increased awareness drives and corrective measures is showing improvements in quality conformity in coal supply.
CIL initially bills customers based on the declared grade of coal supplied. Such provisional bills are later adjusted, once the actual quality of coal is tested and established by the authorized Third-Party Sampling Agency. There is a commercial arrangement for settlement and payment of debit/credit bills which is based on the outcome of the 3rd party validation and upon referred sampling analysis result. The overall grade compatibility of coal supply supplied by CIL is evident from the net impact of Credit and Debit note issued by CIL which shows CIL has earned Bonus of around Rs 400 crores during 2021-22 and has already earned a bonus of around 201 crores during current fiscal till October 2022.
The Coal app UTTAM (Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal) is available for consumers/general public to view the third-party validation of coal supply. Many consumers are taking advantage of this app in planning their coal usages.