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Coal crisis: Minister Joshi leaves for two-day visit to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand

Coal India's new playbook involves ramping up supplies of fossil fuel to up to 2.1 million tonnes (mt) per day starting 20 October, from the current 1.9 mt, to power plants. (Photo: Bloomberg)Premium
Coal India's new playbook involves ramping up supplies of fossil fuel to up to 2.1 million tonnes (mt) per day starting 20 October, from the current 1.9 mt, to power plants. (Photo: Bloomberg)

  • Apart from a sharp spike in electricity demand, growth in number of electricity consumers, inadequate stocking by power projects before monsoon, and heavy rains in September also hit coal production and dispatch

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NEW DELHI: With state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) asked to step up supplies, Union coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi has left for a two-day tour of coal-rich states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Joshi will review production performance of India’s largest coal miner’s subsidiaries including South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL), Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), according to two government officials aware of the development.

Joshi, tasked with helping CIL deliver an additional 200,000 tonnes of coal every day through 60 rakes, will review SECL's Gerva mine, Asia’s largest open cast mine in Chhattisgarh, and other blocks such as Dipka and Kusmunda on Wednesday. While CIL’s annual production target is 670 mt for the current financial year, offtake is expected at 740 mt.

“Happy to share that cumulative coal supplies to thermal power plants from all sources including @CoalIndiaHQ recorded more than 2 million tonnes yesterday. We are increasing coal dispatch to power plants further to ensure sufficient coal stocks at power plants," Joshi said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Joshi will also meet Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren later in the day to seek expedition of approvals for CIL mines in the mineral rich state. The minister will also visit Ashoka mine in the state and hold a review meeting of CIL’s subsidiaries Central Coalfields CL and Bharat Coking Coal.

A union coal ministry spokesperson confirmed the development.

Jharkhand government officials didn’t immediately respond to Mint’s queries on Wednesday.

CIL’s new playbook involves ramping up supplies of fossil fuel to up to 2.1 million tonnes (mt) per day starting 20 October, from the current 1.9 mt, to power plants, as per the plans discussed at the meeting taken by P.K. Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister on Tuesday, which was also attended by coal secretary Anil Kumar Jain, power secretary Alok Kumar, and railway board chairman Suneet Sharma.

Joshi is being accompanied by additional secretary in the union coal ministry VK Tiwari and joint secretary BP Pati.

Interestingly, CIL has been flagging its concerns of inadequate buildup of fuel stocks at power projects for a long time, specifically for summer and monsoon seasons, as reported by Mint earlier.

The Indian economy’s revival has contributed to the coal shortage as electricity demand picked up. This resulted in an 18% spike in coal consumption during August-September when compared to corresponding period in 2019.

Apart from a sharp spike in electricity demand, growth in number of electricity consumers, inadequate stocking by power projects before monsoon, and heavy rains in September also hit coal production and dispatch. In addition, lower generation from other fuel sources and non-payments of coal dues also contributed towards inadequate supplies.

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