Even as India’s power demand grew at an unprecedented rate of 10-11 per cent annually so far in FY23, the country’s coal production surpassed it, rising at more than 15 per cent.
Unprecedented power demand due to rising domestic and industrial consumption impacted the Coal Ministry’s plans to stock 40 million tonnes of the dry fuel at thermal power plants (TPPs) by March 2023.
In an exclusive interview to businessline, Coal Secretary Amrit Lal Meena said, “Because of growth in the economy, power demand has gone up. So, despite over 15 per cent Y-o-Y increase in production, the stock building has not been possible due to about 11 per cent increase in power demand, which used to be 6 per cent.”
The Ministry’s advance planning and coordination with all stakeholders on building stocks and measures such as fast tacking commercial coal mine auctions and modernisation has helped create a comfortable stock position. By March 2023, the overall stock is expected at 115 million tonnes, he added.
The country’s power consumption grew 10 per cent Y-o-Y to 1,375.57 billion units in April-February of FY23, surpassing electricity supplied in the entire FY22. Coal production rose 15.12 per cent to about 785.24 million tonnes.
However, the Secretary assured that all necessary arrangements are in place to meet any demand. Currently, coal reserves at power plants are around 33 million tonnes. The overall stock position is also healthy as the stock today is higher by 27 per cent Y-o-Y at 108 million tonnes.
“But there is no need to worry. Because an adequate number of railway rakes have been deployed. They are transporting coal wherever required and the system is working flawlessly. We have been maintaining a stock of over 30 million tonnes for the last four months. Some plants have a stock for 30 days. Overall, there is availability of coal,” he added.
Meena explained that the Ministry worked simultaneously on various initiatives to strengthen the entire supply chain. This included single window clearance and amendment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act to allow captive mines to sell up to 50 per cent of their annual production after meeting the requirement of end use plants.
The Ministry also leveraged technology such as increasing the use of mass production techniques like surface miner, continuous miner etc., taking up new projects, expansion of existing projects, and auction of coal blocks to private companies/PSUs, he added.
Besides, India’s coal production from captive and commercial mines crossed 100 million tonnes for the first time. Production during April-February of FY23 rose 29.8 per cent Y-o-Y and the ministry is hopeful of achieving around 114 million tonnes output in FY23, against 89 million tonnes in FY22.