Stating that ensuring adequate fuel supply to thermal power plants is its "priority", public sector miner Coal India has asked its employees to step up efforts and breach the production and offtake target of 700 million tonnes for FY23.
In a letter to the employees of Coal India Limited (CIL), the company's chairman-cum-managing director Pramod Agrawal said that the company's priority is to make sure that the electricity generating units are well stocked with domestic fuel amid the ongoing power shortage.
"Coal India's priority is to ensure that the nation's power plants are well stocked with domestic coal and the country gets power at just price. The aim should be to securitize energy at least cost," Agrawal said and asked the employees to treat the targets as "sacrosanct". Do not let any complacency seep in. Drawing inspiration from the performance of FY22, let us consolidate it further in FY23 to breach the 700 MT output and offtake targets," the CMD said.
The country, he said, looks up to Coal India for fuelling its energy needs. "It then becomes not only our responsibility but a corporate obligation to live up to that great expectation," he added.
Every year throws up new challenges and new difficulties, Agrawal said and asked his employees to be prepared to face them.
"There is no way of skirting around the issue," he said.
The company's supplies to the power sector during FY22 soared to an all-time high of 540.4 MT with a whopping 95.4 MT volume surge compared to FY21.
"The increase in one year is higher than the collective growth of 91.2 MT achieved during the previous seven-year period," the CMD said.
CIL's total offtake peaked to a record high of 662 MT in FY22, reflecting a sharp 15.3 per cent growth over FY21. The FY22 supplies also took a leap of 13.7 per cent and nine per cent against pandemic-free fiscals of 2019-20 and 2018-19, respectively.
The 87.4 MT annual increment in FY22 is more than the combined rise of 85.1 MT in the last six years.
Coal Secretary A K Jain had earlier said that the ongoing 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 had attributed the low coal stocks at power plants to several factors such as increased power demand due to the boom in the economy post-COVID-19, the early onset of summer, a rise in the price of gas and imported coal, and sharp fall in electricity generation by coastal thermal power plants.
"It is not a coal crisis but a power demand-supply mismatch... The power demand has registered an upswing as the economy has bounced back, summers have arrived early and the price of gas and imported coal have shot up sharply," Jain had explained.
He further said that the gas-based power generation which has fallen drastically in the country has aggravated the crisis.
"Some of the thermal power plants in India were built along the coast so that imported coal could be used, brought from nearby countries like Indonesia... But with the sharp rise in the price of imported coal, they have reduced the imports," Jain had said.
Coastal thermal power plants are now generating around half of their capacity because of the sharp rise in the prices of imported coal. This has resulted in a gap between the demand and supply of electricity.
The secretary had further said that states located in the south and west have been dependent on imported coal. And when domestic coal is dispatched through wagons/rakes to the domestic coal-based plants in these states to make up for the loss in imported coal generation, the turnaround time of rakes is more than 10 days, which creates rake availability issues for other plants.
Since last year, the railways has loaded more coal than ever, even by curtailing rake supply to other sectors to meet the enhanced demand of the power sector. There was good loading of rakes in March.
Last year, around 18 per cent more coal was supplied by CIL to the power sector, as there was a fuel stock of 100 million tonnes.