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India's Coal Output Surge 29% In April Amid Power Shortage

India's Coal Output Surge 29% In April Amid Power Shortage

This comes at a time when the country is witnessing a power crisis on account of various factors, including shortages of dry fuel.

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India Coal AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

The government on Tuesday said the country's coal output rose 29 per cent to 66.58 million tonnes (MT) in April.

This comes at a time when the country is witnessing a power crisis on account of various factors, including shortages of dry fuel.

The country's coal output in April 2021 stood at 51.62 MT, as per provisional statistics of the Ministry of Coal.

The ministry in a statement said the dispatch of coal to power utilities grew 18.15 per cent to 61.81 MT during April 2022, compared to 52.32 MT in April 2020.

Of the top 37 coal-producing mines, 22 have performed more than 100 per cent while the production from another 10 mines stood between 80 and 100 per cent.

The ministry further said the decline in the prices of imported coal has been observed since the end of October last year. However, international prices are still at a high level.

The coal ministry had earlier said 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.

In an interview with PTI, Coal Secretary A K Jain had attributed the low coal stocks at power plants to several factors such as heightened power demand due to the boom in the economy post-pandemic, early arrival of summer, rise in the price of gas and imported coal and 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, aggravated the crisis.

The 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 said states located in the South and West have been dependent on imported coal. And when domestic coal is dispatched through wagons/ rakes to the 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 have 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. 

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