New Delhi: The coal and power ministries are looking for a "middle path" to resolve their differences on the crucial issue of minimum assured supply of coal to power plants under fuel supply agreements.

"We wanted the trigger level to be fixed at 90 percent, while the Coal Ministry wanted it to be fixed at 50 percent, so a middle path would be established," a Power Ministry official said.

While the Power Ministry had pushed for a 90 percent 'trigger' in all fuel supply agreements for thermal power projects commissioned or to be commissioned between April, 2009, and March, 2012 -- which would penalise coal companies in case supply fell below this level -- the Coal Ministry insisted that the minimum guaranteed supply should be 50 percent of the contractual quantity.

"The Coal Ministry would provide us with the details on the estimated coal production data from April, 2009, to March, 2012, and we would give them the demand scenario based on which a mid-way would be worked out," the official said.

The Coal Ministry's reluctance to accord approval for a 90 percent trigger level in the FSAs comes in the wake of low fuel production by state-run Coal India.

Coal India has so far failed to meet its production targets this year due to rains and delays in securing environment and forest clearances. These delays are expected to result in a production loss of about 190 million tonnes by March, 2012.

Planning Commission Member B K Chaturvedi had earlier said the 50 percent trigger demanded by the Coal Ministry is not realistic.

On being asked whether the two ministries would seek intervention by the Planning Commission or Prime Minister's Office into the issue, the official said, "We are working at solving it ourselves."

(Agencies)