Kolkata, May 4

Amid the second wave of Covid-19, Coal India Ltd’s (CIL) offtake increased to 54.1 million tonnes (mt) in April 2021. Of this, the power sector lifted 42.4 mt accounting for nearly 78 per cent of the total supplies. The remaining 11.7 mt was made up by the non-power sector.

Offtake could have been even higher, but the pandemic spread afflicted over 5400 employees of the company and their wards across subsidiaries including contractual workers, slowing down the operations. Most of them are involved in the frontline output and offtake operations. Loading from private washeries, goods sheds and transport through road mode as well took a hit, said a press statement issued by CIL.

“Despite the setback, coal supplies logged a 3.3 per cent growth compared to a Covid free April of FY-20, while the growth was even higher at 6.1 per cent against April FY-19 when CIL chalked up its highest ever coal off-take of 607 mt,” a senior company official said in the statement.

While drawing growth comparison with same period last year may not be appropriate as there was near total lockdown in the wake of the pandemic, however, offtake has increased by over 38 per cent over the same period last year.

“The key issue is demand has to sustain. If it holds, it bodes well for us in bringing down coal inventory further and increase supplies,” the official said.

While meeting any demand spurt from the power sector would not be a problem, transport logistics taking a toll due to the Covid surge was a matter of concern.

CIL reduced its coal inventory by 12.2 mt in April-21 to 87.2 mt. The company began FY-22 with a record stockpile of 99.3 mt largely due to Covid-rompted tepid demand for the dry fuel.

Coal production was up by nearly four per cent at 41.9 mt of coal in April-21, as compared to 40.4 mt during the same period last year, and with Over Burden Removal (OBR) at 116 Million Cubic Metres, the company achieved nearly 94 per cent of the month’s target.