State-run Coal India said on Thursday the miner's supplies to coal-fired utilities were higher than before the pandemic, even as many power plants are on the verge of running out of coal.

The world's largest coal miner supplied about 206 million tonnes of coal to utilities from April to August, 27 per cent higher compared with the same period last year and up 8 per cent compared with April-August 2019, it said on Thursday.

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The Kolkata-headquartered company accounts for over 80 per cent of India's domestic production, and production typically slows during India's annual monsoon in the June-September period.

"Coal India's offtake held steady at 1.7 million tonnes/day in the last week of August. Never in August of any previous year (have) the company's despatches exceeded 1.6 million tonnes/day," it said.

This year, total supplies during the April-August period rose at the fastest pace in at least seven years, according to data on the company's website.

India is the second-largest importer of coal despite having the world's fourth-largest reserves, and coal powers nearly three-fourths of the country's electricity demand.

The government has urged utilities to import coal as coal-fired electricity generation surged in Asia's third-largest economy after an easing of coronavirus-related curbs, with several power plants on the verge of running out of fuel.

Coal shortages occur periodically in India, with the last such shortage occurring in 2017. Officials from the state-run Indian Railways and Coal India have in the past blamed each other and power producers have been criticized for not buying adequate coal in advance.

"With the monsoon receding, Coal India is aiming to elevate despatches to 1.8 million tonnes a day and beyond in September,"the miner said in a statement.

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