There has been no resolution so far to the issue of assured fuel supply from Coal India Limited (CIL) to power producers. According to reports, while CIL released a model supply agreement in April 2012, so far only around 13 Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) have been signed. Originally around 50 power units were expected to sign FSAs with CIL. Power producers have objected to the model FSA released by CIL, particularly its force majeure provisions and the dilution of financial penalties in case of lower than contracted supply. Background The adverse power supply situation has attracted greater attention in the past few months. According to Central Electricity Authority's data, the gap between peak demand and peak supply of power in March 2012 was 11 per cent. The decreasing availability of fuel has emerged as a critical component of the worsening power supply situation. As of March 31, 2012, there were 32 critical thermal power stations that had a coal stock of less than 7 days. The gap between demand and supply of coal in the past three years is highlighted below: Table 1: Coal demand/Supply gap (In millions of tonnes)
Source: PIB News Release dated May 7, 2012 Coal accounts for around 56 per cent of total installed power generation capacity in India. Increased capacity in thermal power has also accounted for almost 81 per cent of the additional 62,374 MW added during the 11th Plan period. Given the importance of coal in meeting national energy needs, the inability of CIL to meet its supply targets has become a major issue. While the production target for CIL was 486 MT for 2011-12, its actual coal production was 436 MT. Fuel Supply Agreements In March 2012, the government asked CIL to sign FSAs with power plants that have been or would be commissioned by March 31, 2015. These power plants should also have entered into long term Power Purchase Agreements with distribution companies. After CIL did not sign FSAs by the deadline of March 31, 2012 the government issued a Presidential Directive to CIL on April 4, 2012 directing it to sign the FSAs. The CIL board approved a model FSA in April 2012, which has not found acceptance by power producers. According to newspaper reports, many power producers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the model FSA released by CIL. They have argued that it differs from the 2009 version of FSAs in some major ways. These include:
Most power producers, including NTPC, the country’s biggest power producer, have refused to sign the new FSA. Reports suggest that the Power Minister has asked the Prime Minister’s Office to mandate CIL to sign FSAs within a month based on the 2009 format. CIL has received a request from NTPC to consider signing FSAs based on the same parameters as their existing plants, but with the revised trigger point of 80 per cent (down from 90 per cent earlier). Underlying this situation is CIL’s own stagnating production. Various experts have pointed to the prohibition on private sector participation in coal mining (apart from captive projects) and the backlog in granting environment and forest clearances as having exacerbated the coal supply situation.
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha