Coal India suspends supplies to non-power customers

NEW DELHI: The supply of coal by Coal India to the non-power sector has been kept suspended temporarily amid electricity generating plants in the country grappling with coal shortages. “Supplies to non-power sector plants have been kept suspended till further information,” according to a recent letter of Coal India’s arm South Eastern Coalfields Limited. On being asked about the development, a CIL official said, “This is only a temporary prioritisation in the interest of the nation to tide over the low coal stock situation at stressed power plants and scale up supplies to them.” The company, the official said, is increasing its production and offtake steadily. For the past four days, supplies to the power sector are consistently at 1.61 million tonnes (MT) per day. Once the situation stabilises, expectedly within a short time, and stock at coal fired plants attains comfort level, other sectors will be brought back to their regular supply norm. In fact, supplies to the non-power sector during the first half of the current fiscal at a little over 62 million tonnes posted a 10% growth over last year same period and 11% compared to a Covid-free April-September 2019. Even since the demand for coal reached a higher pitch from the power sector from August, supplies to the non-regulated sector consumers were close to 18 MT during August-September, clocking a growth of 37% compared to pandemic free August-September 2019. Owing to skyrocketing coal prices at international markets, consumers have been vying for domestic coal, hiking up demand. Instead of restricting coal intake, had the power utilities stocked up coal from October of last year till February this year, as was repeatedly requested by coal companies of CIL, stock position at the plants would have been better, the official said. Coal minister Pralhad Joshi had on Wednesday said cumulative coal supplies to thermal power plants crossed 2 MT on Tuesday and dispatch of the dry fuel is being enhanced to plants. “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 had said in a tweet. CIL expects to raise production after Dussehra, when workers are back from holidays and attendance picks up, the official said. Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output.

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