The government has told coal companies to immediately ramp up production even as it slammed their executives for not reviewing production regularly, as coal availability remains a worry.
The normative coal stock at power units — which used to be for 20-25 days — is down by half to 10-12 days. There are currently 10 units which have zero coal stock, 46 with just one-day stock and 31 with coal stock ranging from seven to 15 days. As per data available with the Central Electricity Authority, the average coal stock at power units stands at 13 days (as on October 9).
In a letter, the coal ministry secretary said: “It is noted with deep concern that despite repeated instructions and reviews and even after the end of rainy season, the production and offtake levels have not picked up to the desired levels.”
The letter acknowledged that coal stock at power plants is decreasing and the number of critical/super critical plants is increasing. The letter, addressed to Chief Managing Director, Coal India Limited (CIL) and all its seven subsidiaries, was reviewed by Business Standard.
“Hence, once again, CMD, CIL and CMDs of all subsidiaries are requested to make immediate measures to ensure 2 million tonne plus daily production and offtake with immediate effect and increase supply to critical/super critical power plants,” said the letter. The ministry slammed the officials for not carrying a regular review of coal production and called for urgent action.
Lack of domestic coal supply has pushed NTPC Ltd to import coal after a hiatus of four years. NTPC was one of the first companies to implement no-import policy when the Centre announced the same along with 1 billion annual coal production target for Coal India.
R K Singh, power and new & renewable energy minister, recently said the government has allowed all power producers to import coal as the domestic situation would remain poor.
Last year, average coal stock during the same month was down to 10 days. Even after several efforts by the government, the stock situation has not returned to normative levels.
“CIL has dispatched 40.07 Million Tonnes (MT) of coal to power plants in April 2018, which is an increase of about 14 per cent over the dispatch of 35.16 MT in April 2017,” Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said to a Rajya Sabha question on July 20. Business Standard reported last month that coal supply situation post monsoon would be a repeat of last year.