Coal imports in India saw a surge of 6.7 per cent to 171.81 million tonne (MT) in the April-December period of the ongoing financial year, according to a report.
This comes at a time when the government is mulling relaxing the timeline for achieving the 1 billion tonne coal production target for Coal India.
Coal imports stood at 161 MT in the April-December period of 2017-18, as per the report by mjunction services.
mjunction -- a joint venture between Tata Steel and SAIL -- is a B2B e-commerce company that also publishes research reports on coal and steel verticals.
Import of coal in December however declined 8.09 per cent to 17.25 MT from 18.77 MT in the year-ago month.
Commenting on this trend, mjunction Managing Director and CEO Vinaya Varma said: "The demand for imported coal waned, to some extent, due to higher despatch to power plants by domestic miners."
With the coal stock situation improving in the power sector and production increasing in the fourth quarter, import demand is likely to remain subdued as compared to previous months, he added.
Of the total imports during December last year, non-coking coal was at 12.52 MT as compared to 13.01 MT imported in November 2018.
Coking coal imports were at 3.72 MT in December 2018, down from 3.75 MT imported a month ago.
"India's coal....imports during December 2018 through 31 major and non-major ports are estimated to have declined 3.88 per cent over November 2018," according to a provisional compilation by mjunction based on monitoring of vessels' positions and data received from shipping companies.
Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier urged state-run Coal India to pledge self-sufficiency in production to eliminate import of the dry fuel.
The government has set a target of 1 billion tonne of coal production by 2019-20 for the mining major, but is considering relaxing the timeline.
Coal India has announced a production aim of 652 million tonne in 2018-19.