The country is facing constraints in the domestic coal availability and the rest of the dry fuel demand needs to be met with imports, according to the coal ministry. The ministry has also emphasised that coal block holders — both captive and commercial — have a major role to play in mitigating the coal shortfall situation. Domestic coal production is about 800 million tonnes, according to the coal additional secretary, who is also the chairperson of an inter-ministerial panel on coal linkages for the power sector.
The inter-ministerial panel met recently to consider the requests for coal linkages to central/state sector power plants and to review the status of existing coal linkages. The additional coal secretary stated that “there are constraints in domestic coal availability and the domestic coal production is roughly about 800 MT”.
“Therefore, the rest of the coal demand of the country has to be met through imports from other countries”, according to the minutes of the meeting on fuel linkages.
Coal Secretary A K Jain had earlier attributed the low coal stocks at power plants to several factors such as heightened power demand due to the boom in the economy post-COVID-19, the early arrival of summer, a rise in the price of gas and imported coal and a sharp fall in electricity generation by coastal thermal power plants. He had added that a slew of measures is already underway to enhance the total power supply in the country.
The gas-based power generation which has fallen drastically in the country has aggravated the crisis.
Coastal thermal power plants are now generating around half of their capacity because of the sharp rise in the prices of imported coal. This has resulted in a gap between the demand and supply of electricity.
The secretary further said that states located in the South and West have been dependent on imported coal. And when domestic coal is dispatched through wagons/ rakes to the domestic coal-based plants in these states to make up for the loss in imported coal generation, the turnaround time of rakes is more than 10 days, which creates rake availability issues for other plants.