The West Bengal government has again taken on the Union government, accusing it of extracting higher electricity charges from households and factories to pay for gross miscalculation by business houses on the cost of imported coal.
The State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is upset with the Centre's move to allow price pooling for coal, whereby power plants pay a uniform average price for domestic and imported coal, in effect raising fuel costs for those that have secure contracts with Coal India and reducing the price for plants that use a lot of imported coal.
The State's Power Secretary, MK De, said that price pooling will help a handful of companies that built power plants based on imported coal mainly in coastal regions. Their calculations went wrong and they started making losses owing to rising international coal prices. Price pooling will help these companies.
Price pooling will enable these companies to receive coal at lower prices and minimise their losses. It will also shield their banker's accounts from turning into non-performing assets.
Groups such as the Tatas and Adani would gain from price pooling, said another official.