Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on Thursday said that his ministry would urge imported coal-based (ICB) power plants to switch their feedstock to domestic sources in the next couple of years.

Explaining the rationale behind the move, the Minister elaborated that India’s coal production will hit 1 billion tonnes (BT) in FY24, and the Ministry’s target is to stop imports by FY26 as production ramps up further in line with India’s rising power demand.

“We will request the ICB plants to change their technology and design so that their plants can run on domestic coal. In the next 2 years. It is not compulsory. We will request it. It will be voluntary. We will make domestic coal available at a very competitive price. We want to become competitive and then approach them and request them. We cannot make it mandatory. It will take around two years,” Joshi told reporters here.

Ministry officials said that the plans to set up washeries are also being expanded rapidly, ensuring that coal supplied to such plants has lesser ash content and comes close to the matches imported coal quality. This will ensure that these plants do not need to modify their modifications significantly.

Besides, the Ministry is also working on coastal shipping, or rail-sea-rail route, to supply coal from Odisha and Jharkhand to the West Coast. Since most of the ICB plants are situated on the coasts, their transportation costs will also be lower.

Joshi stressed that the constant efforts by the coal mining PSUs have ensured adequate availability of the dry fuel at power plants. At present, the blending of imported coal with domestic coal is around 3 per cent.

Currently, coal supply stands at 103 million tonnes (MT), which includes 58 MT at mine pitheads, 35 MT at power plants, and the rest is in transit, he added.

ICB plants have an installed capacity of around 17 gigawatts (GW).