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India's state power plants resume coal imports amid domestic shortages

Reuters  |  NEW DELHI 

By Sudarshan Varadhan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - State-run thermal power plants in India's coastal states have again begun buying overseas due to domestic shortages, government and utility officials said, in a setback for the country's long-term plans to eliminate

After no significant in 2017, in and have ordered several cargoes of since the beginning of this year, two officials said.

Andhra Pradesh, a state on India's east coast, has imported 200,000 tonnes of coal so far this year and could import as much as 1 million tonnes in 2018, said Ajay Jain, a in the state department.

"Coal has been a real problem. If we had depended only on coal, it would have been a disaster," Jain said.

Generation and Distribution Corp, a government utility in the southwestern state, has imported about 1.4 million tonnes of coal this year, after going a year without starting at the end of 2016, according to Vikram Kapoor, the of the utility.

An increase in coal imports by undermines a pledge by to cut thermal coal imports to zero by March 2018.

But state-owned Coal Ltd, the world's second-biggest by production, is grappling with a shortage of trains to carry the fuel from its mines to the country's power plants.

Both and are waiting for the wind season to start in June, when they expect dependence on coal to ease, Jain and Kapoor both said.

Domestic logistic bottlenecks, regulatory changes and surging power demand will likely increase 2018 thermal coal imports after two years of declines, reported in February.

Imports rose over 15 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

State-run utilities could add up to 5 million tonnes to India's coal imports in 2018 because of the Coal shortages, a from Adani Enterprises, India's biggest told in February.

India imported 144.5 million tonnes of coal in 2017, according to data provided by American Fuels & Natural Resources, a Dubai-based

Imports would be a boost for international miners such as Indonesia's Adaro Energy, Australia's or global commodity merchant

Maharashtra, a western coastal state, has floated a tender for procuring 1 million tonnes of coal to augment its existing stock and meet growing power demand, a at State Power Generation Co, the state utility, said on Tuesday.

Gujarat, Maharashtra's northwestern neighbour, plans to ramp up imports by 400,000 tonnes this year, according to a

Karnataka, another southern state, has resisted imports so far. But that might change, according to Kumar Naik, the of state utility

Two of Karnataka's three major thermal power plants had almost run out of coal stockpiles, according to government data on May 14.

($1 = 68.0800 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Christian Schmollinger)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 17 2018. 13:09 IST