As monsoon has hit many parts of the country, Coal India chairman Pramod Agrawal said the state-owned firm is braced up to meet its part of committed coal supplies to the power sector in the coming months, and stressed that building up dry fuel stock timely by electricity-generating plants will be crucial.
People in many parts of the country faced power outages at the beginning of the summer season this year due to the shortage of coal supplies at various thermal plants.
"Timely stock build-up by the power plants when coal is available will be crucial. We are gearing up to meet our part of committed supplies to the power sector in the ensuing months," Agrawal said in an interview to PTI.
Stating that the company is targeting to close the first quarter with 35 million tonnes (MTs) of incremental production compared to the same quarter of last year, he said that the company's output tempo is progressing in this direction.
"We will not spare any effort in pushing up the output and off take," he added.
Terming the recent coal shortages as "misnomer", Agrawal said that Coal India Ltd's (CIL) pitheads are stocked with around 46 MT of coal, whereas coal stock at power plants stands at around 24 MT.
This apart, a little over six MT is lying at goods sheds, private washeries, ports and CIL's sidings awaiting transportation to the power plants end.
The chairman said that the demand-supply mismatch witnessed in the recent past was on account of three reasons. Firstly, there was an unforeseen escalation in power demand on the back of strong post-pandemic economic revival, secondly, the blazing summer heat across the northern plains of the country further accelerated the demand.
Finally, the international coal prices which are simmering over for past many months have deterred imports by international coal-based power plants, the chairman explained.
"The first quarter is usually highly productive for us. We have registered nearly 29 per cent production growth during the first two months of current fiscal at 108 MT over same period last year, the highest ever for this period," Agrawal said.
Concurrently, supply to power sector at 102 MT grew by 16.7 per cent.
CIL aims to supply 565 MT to power sector during FY23 and the company's efforts are oriented to meet this.
"Increasing supplies is a concerted move and we are synergizing our efforts with ministries of coal, power and railways. Powerhouses should strive to lift coal through road and RCR mode in order to augment overall supply," he added.
Coal secretary A K Jain in April said that the current power crisis is mainly on account of the sharp decline in electricity generation from different fuel sources and not due to the non-availability of domestic coal.
Jain attributed the low coal stocks at power plants to several factors such as heightened power demand due to the boom in the economy post-COVID-19, the early arrival of summer, a rise in the price of gas and imported coal, and a sharp fall in electricity generation by coastal thermal power plants.
He had added that a slew of measures is already underway to enhance the total power supply in the country.
The gas-based power generation which has fallen drastically in the country has aggravated the crisis, the secretary had said.
Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal production. The PSU is one of the major suppliers of fossil fuels to the power sector.