Coal Secretary Amrit Lal Meena said the Ministry is closely following the supply situation at thermal power plants (TPPs) and does not expect any major depletion in stocks of the critical commodity.

“As on February 25, the total stock is 127.30 million tonnes. So, we have already crossed the closing stock of April 2023. If you look at the stocks at TPP end, last year (April 2023) was 34.57 mt, while this year it is 41.01 mt. So, this is a significant increase. About 30 per cent extra stock is likely to happen. This 127.30 mt will go up to somewhere around 150 mt. The stocks at TPP end will go up to 43-44 mt,” Meena told businessline.

For comparison, last year on March 20, the total stocks including mine pit heads, TPP-end and in-transit were 108 mt.

The stock position on April 1, 2023 was 125.49 mt, which included 69.45 mt at CIL pit head, 5.16 mt at SCCL pit head, stocks at TPPs was 34.57 mt, captive/ commercial stocks were at 10.15 mt and 6.16 mt was in transit, he added.

The position of railway rakes is also higher. Availability of rakes has gone up by 5.39 per cent Y-o-Y. 

The position of railway rakes is also higher. Availability of rakes has gone up by 5.39 per cent Y-o-Y.  | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Last year, the Power Ministry directed TPPs to import coal for blending to make up for the shortfall in domestic supplies, first at 6 per cent and later at 4 per cent till March 2024.

More railway rakes

During January-March every year, the Ministries of Coal, Power and Railways gear up to stock coal at TPP end in preparation for the peak demand summer season (April-June).

“Besides, the position of railway rakes is also higher. Availability of rakes has gone up by 5.39 per cent Y-o-Y. There is a continuous growth in rakes and this will continue to happen. So, the supply will be more. We don’t see any major depletion in stocks during summers and even during the rainy months because now the stockpile at TPPs is high. Secondly, the capacity to produce and transport is also high,” the Coal Secretary assured.

The daily average rake provided by Railways for transporting coal stood at 369.25 till February 25, 2023, which has grown by 5.39 per cent to 389.15 as on February 25 this year.

India’s power demand has been rising at 6-7 per cent Y-o-Y aided by higher consumption from the commercial and industrial sectors. Last year, power demand rose significantly due to high humidity and heat index, leading to more demand for cooling. In September 2023, the peak demand met hit a record 243 gigawatts (GW).

Higher production

Meena emphasised that the Ministry has worked at a “furious pace” to increase coal production, which is likely to hit 1 billion tonnes (BT) this fiscal, which ends on March 31.

“Our endeavour is that during the remaining 30-35 days, the production is further ramped up. Till February 26, we have achieved 861.31 mt production. Currently, we are producing 34 lakh tonnes daily and it will further ramp up in March. I am hopeful that we will touch 1 BT. In terms of despatch, the cumulative is 865.30 mt. So, we are aiming for 1 BT of both production and despatch,” he added.

Last year, India’s cumulative coal production crossed 800 mt on March 8, but this year, due to the efforts of the Ministry, the output hit 803 mt on February 6 — more than 30 days earlier. The growth in production till February 6, 2024 is higher by over 12 per cent on an annual basis.

Besides, coal despatch also surged to 815.11 mt, on February 6 this year from 736 mt during the corresponding period previous fiscal year, at a rate of 10.75 per cent.