As states gear up for elections and several others rush to meet the Centre’s electrification deadline, power demand is touching a new record every day. Meanwhile, failing to catch up, coal supply has dipped to a record low. According to an industry source, stocks at the coal pithead and power plants have touched an all-time low of about 30 million tonne (mt), as demand has gone up and imports have dropped.
“In the beginning of the year, this was around 50 mt,” an official said. There are 31 power units that have critical (less than seven days) and sub-critical (less than four days) coal stock. Coal India Limited (CIL), however, said it is sustaining the double digit output growth since the beginning of the current fiscal year. It posted 10.6 per cent production growth during April-September 2018 alongside an 8.1 per cent jump in total coal supplies, against comparable period last year. Coal supplies to power sector evinced a 10 per cent growth during the referred period, said the company in an official communication.
Officials said the stock pile (ready to be dispatched coal) with the mine is low as the off-take has increased and it is a good sign. A CIL official said the company liquidated 34.34 mt of its pit head coal stock during the first six months of the current fiscal. “The stock pile stood at 21.21 mt, which was 55.55 mts at the beginning of the fiscal,” he said.
Power producers are, however, sceptical about the situation. A senior NTPC executive said that October has witnessed power demand growth of 12 per cent, in proportion to which, the sustainable coal production growth is required to be more than 10 per cent every month.
“As against an overall power generation growth of 5.43 and 7.67 per cent during Q1 and Q2, respectively, coal-based power generation grew at 5.53 and 2.79 per cent during the same period,” said an NTPC executive.
As coal stockpile at the mine’s end dwindles to 20 mt from 55 mt five months back, rail rakes have also reduced. From the April to September period, railways supplied an average of 271 rakes a day for Coal India supply, after hitting a peak of 310 rakes per day in March. This has come down to below 250 rakes per day in August and September.
From April to September period, railways supplied an average of 271 rakes per day for Coal India supply, after hitting a peak of 310 per day rakes in March. This has come down to below 250 rakes a day in August and September.