Paradip port, the biggest coal handling port in the country, witnessed 24.1 per cent decline in thermal coal import in December because of storing problem inside the port area and depletion of contracted volume of importing agencies.
The imports stood at 762,775 tonne last month, against 1 million tonne in November.
In October, the port authorities had written to the state government to waive mandatory storing license norms for imported coal, citing that the norms were unnecessarily creating hurdles in growth of business.
As per the Odisha Mineral (Prevention of Theft, Smuggling and Illegal mining and Regulation of Possession, Storage and Transportation) Rules, 2007, all mineral transaction must carry a storage licence and a transport license, to check unauthorised use of the state’s natural resources.
“We are yet to receive any reply from the state government on our plea,” said a port official.
The port gets about a fourth of its Rs 400 crore annual revenue from coal imports. The time-consuming and unnecessary norm to get a storing license for imported coal is blocking evacuation of imported coal and is affecting the efficiency of the port operation and income, they said.
The drop in coal imports was also attributed to nearing of expiry of contract of importing agencies
“Imports of non-coking coal dropped because some of the importing agencies have almost consumed their annual contracted volume. As they are in the process of renewing their contract, it affected the inbound coal shipments,” he said.
Many power plants located within the state have resorted to coal imports after lone supplier Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) failed to provide required amount and desired quality of coal. The demand for imported coal has also gone up in past couple of months due to drop in prices, after major consumers such as China and the US cut orders amid global economic uncertainty.
Even though Odisha is a significant thermal coal producer, most power producers import low-ash containing coal from Indonesian and Australian to blend it with locally-produced high-ash coal for better power generation.
However, import of coking coal rose significantly during December from the previous month, as per port traffic department data. The port unloaded 353,433 tonne met coke in December, up from 248,409 tonne coinciding with the rising demand from steel makers, the port source said.