In search of an end-to-end solution for the perpetual logistics problems in the supply of coal, two public sector 'navratna' (high value) companies, Coal India Ltd and Shipping Corporation of India, are in talks with Indian Railways to explore its joining their joint venture.
"CIL and SCI had formed a joint venture in December and now we are trying to extend this to Railways. We are in talks with them and the initial response that we got is very good. Once they join, we will be able o solve the logistics problems related to coal. Interactions are happening with them at every level," Coal India chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya said in Kolkata on Sunday.
With the country poised to import 142 million tonnes in 2011-12, the development holds significance as a tie-up with railways will help CIL in transporting the imported coal to its destinations.
"To further reduce the cost of imports, we are planning to have two captive ports, one each in Eastern and Western parts of the country. We are also mulling options to have our own ships. Through these steps, we can lessen the port handling charges," he added.
Coal imports for the current financial year are expected to touch 85 million tonnes. While the total production of coal in the country is projected at 630 million tonnes in 2011-12, demand stands at 713 million tonnes.
With the domestic production of coal slowing down due to environmental and land acquisition problems, coal producers have been seeking assets abroad to help meet the shortfall.